OCCA Northern Section.

Obituary Ronald Earling Cromarty

Three old friends

Three old OCCA friends: From left to right Eugene Els, Ron Cromarty and Graeme Stead (October 2014)

We lost a great friend and a great paint chemist on 13th May 2016, when Ronald Cromarty passed away after a long illness, at the age of 87.

Ron, known to his family as Rick, was a long-standing member of OCCA Transvaal and later OCCA Northern Section. He served as Chairman and Vice President of the South African Division in the 1980s.

Ron Cromarty was an Honours Graduate of the University of Pretoria where he majored in Chemistry and Physics. He was a Member of the South African Chemical Institute (MSACI), a registered Natural Scientist and an Associate in the Technology of Surface Coatings (ASTC).

Ron was born in 1929 of Scottish ancestry. As he once wryly remarked, he was born into a depression where saving paper clips was the order of the day! His father had been through World War I and was a stickler for doing things right! Ron went to Germiston High School. After graduating, like many young chemists of his age, he first worked for African Explosives & Chemical Industries (AECI) in Modderfontein. He then worked for three years in the infant Uranium mining industry. He then spent two years with Marble Lime and Associated Industries in the production of lime. Ron married Mildred Carey in 1950. She lived with her family in Bothaville in the Orange Free State. She was a ‘small town girl’! Her father was an attorney who owned two farms.

He joined the National Building Research Institute (NBRI) at the CSIR in 1956. During the many years spent working for what was later renamed the Division of Building Technology of the CSIR, Ron‘s work ranged from studies on porous materials such as concrete, mortar and plaster, through metal  and GRP sheeting to linings and protective materials. He had published in these fields and had delivered papers in South Africa. He had also delivered papers in France and at an ASTM International Symposium in Ottawa. He had visited research institutes in Europe and North America on several occasions and had maintained contacts with research workers in fields of mutual interest. In 1983 he was the recipient of the JD Roberts Award for building research. He left the CSIR in 1993 after a career there of 37 years!

Ron was one of those people who, it seems, had always been there! He was a great friend foremost, as well as being a colleague and a well-respected scientist. One thing a newcomer would soon find out about Ron is that he had a great sense of humour and a shrewd mind. He had the ability to assess a person’s worth in an instant! He was a remarkably humble person and had a strong Christian faith. Ron, as a Chemist, played an important role in the development of paint technology in the construction and building sector in South Africa.

He provided valuable consultation to many an important project and his opinion and technical work was well respected in dispute resolutions. In the words of his former colleague Martin Smit; ‘His perfectionism as a scientist and high ethical standards, in obtaining irrefutable facts in his field of research and investigations, were outstanding.’ I had the privilege of attending a memorial service held in honour of Ron on the 19th of May 2016 in Pretoria. The church was full of family and friends and praise was heaped on this man from all quarters. The erudite testimony from all four of his accomplished sons was gratifying – I learnt a whole lot more about a man who I thought I knew well. Our condolences were expressed to Mildred and her family for their loss.

We will miss Ron Cromarty but his work and the foundations he laid will live on. Rest in peace old friend!

Graeme Stead FTSC



November 2015 – OBITUARY (Ralf Johannsen)

Ralf Johannsen

RALF PETER JOHANNSEN-FTSC          1938-2015


It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Ralf Johannsen on 28 February 2015 after a relatively short illness stoically borne.

Ralf was born in Lutjenberg, Germany He received his schooling in Germany and attained a Masters degree in chemical engineering focusing on coatings and polymer chemistry. After graduation from university, Ralf’s professional career commenced in Beirut then Italy with F.Tamer et Fils.

In 1965, Ralf journeyed to South Africa to join Plascon Paints where he held various managerial posts in South Africa and Zimbabwe eventually becoming group technical director and group operations director, culminating in his appointment as Managing Director Transvaal and Managing Director Plascon Paints (UK).

In 1997, Ralf transferred to Australia to head up the newly acquired business of Barlows (Australia).

Ralf returned to South Africa in 2001 when he retired but not completely as he continued to consult for Freeworld Coatings.

Ralf’s involvement with OCCA was extensive. He joined the association in January 1966 at the then Transvaal branch. His loyalty remained with OCCA over 49 years maintaining his membership wherever in the world he was living

During the early 1970’s, OCCA Cape branch was dormant due to lack of interest by the local industry. A small committee was formed of those manufacturers wishing to revive OCCA Cape culminating in ralf being elected as the new chairman of the resurrected Cape section in 1973.

During his 49 years as a member, Ralf served on numerous committees as chairman of branch, chairman of conference and ultimately as Vice President of the SA division remaining until the end, a loyal supporter of OCCA.

Ralf had a number of other interests. He was an active Rotarian for a number of years, supported various charitable institutions and was very involved with the Lutheran church in Cape Town.

We extend our sincere condolences to Janet and Ralf’s family

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September 2015 – 27th Mini Symposium

prac mini symp 001 Duran Pather Mini Symp KZN

On 16th September 2015 the KZN Section successfully convened its 27th Mini Symposium.

42 attendees gathered at the Westville Country Club to hear presentations on the theme for the event which was simply entitled:

“What’s New?”

Over the course of the day the following programme was presented:

08H00 – 08H30 Registrations

  •  “WOOD FINISH” Presenter: Jeevan Singh  from Kansai Plascon
  •  “EMULSION POLYMERISATION for DUMMIES” Presenter: Jay Udith Semi-retired from Sancryl Chemicals

 10H00 – 10H15 – TEA

  •  “MANAGING STATIC ELECTRICITY” Presenter: Francy Cullen for Vadi Pillay
  •  “DEFOAMERS” Presenter: Duran Pather from Buckman Chemicals

12H30 – 13H30 – LUNCH

  • “EFFLUENT TREATMENT” Presentation & Practical workshop Presenter: Lionel Hughes and Shannon Goddard from Buckman Chemicals

 Closing / Vote of Thanks  Chairperson OCCA KZN