On June 21st, the 62nd anniversary of the company, Creare celebrated the lives and contributions of three of its former presidents: Bob Dean, Peter Runstadler, and Paul Rothe. The commemorative luncheon brought together the families of the former presidents with past and current employees to honor the men who helped shape the company, our community, and, through their innovations, the world.
Speakers included former and current employees who worked alongside our former presidents. Former employees included Peter Christie, a long-time Crearean who served as vice president, controller, HR director, and operations manager during his tenure; Jim Block, Creare’s third president; Frank Dolan, who worked as an engineer, senior engineer, and safety officer for over 30 years; and Jody Schubert, initially a project planner who then became the director of Human Resources for nearly 4 decades. Current president Patrick Magari served as master of ceremonies and engineer Jed Wilbur shared memories of working with Bob and Peter at one of Bob’s many spin-off companies, Synergy Innovations, Inc.
Bob Dean, Creare’s founder and president from 1961 to 1975, was remembered for his “creative genius and entrepreneurial spirit.” Dean’s technical contributions ranged from work on Plasma Arc Generators that eventually led to the birth of Hypertherm to work on biomedical applications and numerous turbomachinery projects. While his reputation for technical work precedes him, Peter Christie primarily remembered Bob for being very tough in interviews, frugal to a fault, and a family man. “But above all else, he was a teacher,” Christie said. Jed Wilbur also shared stories of Bob as a teacher who would sprinkle stories of famous inventors into his lessons. Jed described Bob’s management style as “no fanfare, no hand-holding, but a lot of trust.” Jody Schubert recalled her start-up at Creare, only a few months before Bob left to found yet another spin-off. Jody noted it was hard to imagine what Creare would look like without Bob because, as far as she could tell, “he was Creare.”
Peter Runstadler, who started at Creare shortly after its founding and served as its president from 1976 to 1980, had an enthusiasm for engineering that was contagious. Jed Wilbur, who worked with Peter at Synergy Innovations, says he came to see Peter as “the kind of person an engineer should be: curious, passionate, compassionate, and methodical.” Peter’s skill as engineer brought him success on projects focused on precision manufacturing and turbomachinery, and he led Creare as it first ventured into automated data acquisition projects. Frank Dolan described Peter as “a true mentor” and someone who taught him new ways to look at data. “He and his wife are some of the nicest people you’d ever meet,” Peter Christie recalled, and said that it was his honor to be one half of the duo known as “Pete and Re-Pete” during his time working with Runstadler.
Paul Rothe was Creare’s president from 2000 to 2006 and worked at Creare for 37 years, during which time he was an early project engineer working in the machine systems division, led efforts in computational fluid dynamics, and championed Creare’s work on nuclear reactor safety. He was remembered not only for his incredible engineering, but for his leadership in implementing new organizational processes, and his eccentric dress-sense. “He could – and would – come up with a new administrative procedure every week,” Jody Schubert remembered. Patrick Magari shared his memory of his first meeting with Paul, where they met off the interstate to have a technical interview, and Paul wore a full-length purple jacket with a white fur collar and moon boots. “He was my hiring champion and a wonderful mentor,” Patrick said.
Dean, Runstadler, and Rothe were also remembered for their love of spending time in the outdoors in the Upper Valley. Jim Block shared memories from multiple Creare Canoe trips, including smelling the burning rubber from trying to dry out sneakers by the campfire, facing rapids that dumped five out of the seven canoes, and a cooler full of stew that Paul Rothe assured everyone was freshly made. Of course, these past presidents also found ways to innovate their outdoor fun. Paul Rothe custom built a canoe rack for his Saab that would carry three canoes, and Bob Dean equipped the bike he rode to work daily with something he termed a “wiggle light” to make him more visible to traffic. As Jim Block said, “We always took time to have some fun.”
The event concluded with a dedication of the building formerly known as the Mill to the Dean Building and the dedication of the Dean, Runstadler, and Rothe conference rooms. It was a wonderful celebration of the lives of these three men whose contributions to Creare are immeasurable.