Thomas I. Haigh Jr., 76, research director

Thomas I. Haigh Jr.
Thomas I. Haigh Jr.
Posted: July 14, 2013

Thomas I. Haigh Jr., 76, of Holland, a research director at the Franklin Institute for 20 years, died Monday, July 8, of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne.

He was a resident of Holland for the last 49 years.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Haigh was a 1954 graduate of Northeast High School and a 1968 graduate of Temple University with a bachelor's degree in physics.

Mr. Haigh came from humble circumstances and believed in the importance of higher education. It took him 11 years of night school to earn his degree while also holding down several jobs, his family said.

Mr. Haigh was hired by the Franklin Institute in 1957 and worked his way up to director of physical sciences at a time when the institute was carrying out research and development projects for the federal government.

"Every project that had anything to do with the physics of things - what they were doing with materials and the processes they were using, that's what he did," said son Thomas I. III.

One project entailed designing nozzles for the Saturn rocket; in another, he reconfigured the automatic loaders on the gun turrets of ships so that they would not explode and injure seamen, his son said.

"That one saved a lot of lives," said his son.

In the 1960s, the Scott Paper Co. contracted with the institute to improve paper towels. His son said Mr. Haigh designed a dye to make the paper fluffy and absorbent.

In 1977, Mr. Haigh accepted a position at Penn Emblem Co. as director of research and development. Penn Emblem makes custom-embroidered emblems and patches. It has offices in Philadelphia and California.

Mr. Haigh developed the fabrics, dyes, flexible inks, and adhesives that went into emblems, and came up with a solvent to remove nameplates from work uniforms so the garments could be reused, his son said.

He retired in 1992 from the company, but continued consulting for area firms while also setting up several small businesses.

Mr. Haigh received many awards for his professional achievements and the patents his employers received as the result of his research.

He enjoyed golf and reading, being a Cub Scout master, and spending time with his family.

Surviving, besides his son, are his wife of 53 years, the former Adele Chervenka; another son, Timothy; daughters Lynne Mitchell and Nancy Reiber; a sister; and 10 grandchildren.

A visitation is from 10:30 a.m. to noon Monday, July 15, followed by a life remembrance, at the Joseph A. Fluehr III Funeral Home, 800 Newtown-Richboro Rd., Richboro. Burial is private.

Contributions may be made to the Bucks County SPCA, Box 277, Lahaska, Pa. 18931.

Condolences may be offered to the family via

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8102 or

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