Roy F. Weston, 96, an environmental engineer

Posted: August 22, 2007

Roy F. Weston, 96, of Newtown Square, founder and chairman emeritus of Weston Solutions Inc., a groundbreaking environmental engineering firm, died Saturday at home.

Mr. Weston established his company, Roy F. Weston Inc., in Newtown Square with 10 employees in 1957. When he retired in 1991, it was headquartered on a 53-acre former estate in West Chester and employed 3,000 people in four laboratories and 45 offices throughout the country. "We don't want to be the biggest; we just want to be the best," he told a reporter at the time.

Over the years, the company's original focus, the treatment of wastewater, broadened. Now called Weston Solutions, it specializes in bringing land, buildings, and other resources that have been environmentally compromised back to profitable use.

The company was one of the first to handle cleanup of hazardous sites after the U.S. government established the Superfund program in 1980. In 1987, a newspaper headline described Mr. Weston as turning the "poisons of environment into blossoming profits."

A native of Reedsburg, Wis., Mr. Weston grew up hunting and fishing. He met his future wife, Madeleen Kellner, in high school. They married in 1934.

He earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin and a master's degree in civil engineering from New York University. For 15 years, he was a sanitary engineer for Atlantic Refining Co. in Philadelphia and then had an environmental consulting firm with two partners before establishing his company.

Mr. Weston hired people who were as passionate about global environmental quality as he was, his son-in-law Fred Thompson said. He kept up with new discoveries in academic environmental research, said Thompson, a former Weston Solutions executive, and encouraged young people to study science.

In 1998, Mr. Weston donated materials to support research at Drexel University's School of Environmental Science, Engineering and Policy. The Roy F. Weston Lecture and Seminar Series in Industrial and Hazardous Waste Treatment was established at Drexel in his honor.

He and his wife also funded two annual graduate fellowships and a lecture series at the University of Wisconsin. "He was an intellectual giant and saw the need for sustainability decades before others," said Jonathan Foley, director of the university's Center for Sustainabilty and Global Environment.

Mr. Weston traveled all over the world for business and enjoyed golfing, gardening and bowling. He was very disciplined, his son-in-law said, and made time for his family.

His wife died in 2002. Mr. Weston is survived by daughters Susan Thompson and Katherine Swoyer; six grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. The funeral and burial will be private.

Memorial donations may be made to Delaware Valley Science Fairs, 236 Randell Hall, Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia 19104.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.

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