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FLEXO Magazine : May 2012
FTA TODAY FTA Friends Remember Ron Harper His Life, Legacy & Entrepreneurial Spirit On Saturday, April 21, 2012, the flexo- graphic printing, packaging and converting community joined family, friends and local dignitaries in celebrating the life of Ronald Lee Harper. Harper, a life-long champion of education, who was well known for his philanthropic pursuits, passed away April 14. He was 79 years old. Along with Katherine, his wife and part- ner in all endeavors, Ron Harper created a guiding philosophy for his business and personal life: “Focus only on making a profit and we will struggle. Focus on doing the right things consistently every day for our customers, our employees and our com- munity, and success will follow.” He wrote in his book, “The Harder I Work, The Luckier I Get,” that the important ques- tions in his life were “Have I made a difference in this world? And have I had a substantial positive influence on someone’s life in the course of my lifetime? I pray I have.” T housands of friends acclaim that Ron Harper made the world so much bet- ter in so many ways that will never be forgotten. “Ron had a huge effect on so many of us. When I think of Ron, I think of a man who loved God, Family, Country and the FTA,” recollects Mark Andrews, FTA Hall of Fame, 1992. “Some years ago, during a promotion of the FTA, he and Katherine gave me a beautiful painting of the Capitol Build- ing in DC. It hangs in my office to this day and reminds me of them. I’ve seen that very same painting hanging in Congres- sional Offices in DC as well. Yes, Ron was there! His influence in every important aspect of life was and still is felt here and around the world! May he rest in peace.” Ron Harper was known as an innova- tor. He was born in Oldtown, MD on Dec. 3 , 1932. After high school, he joined the U.S . Marine Corps at 17. In 1952 at age 19, he married Katherine Hodges from Charlotte, NC. The couple raised a family of five and spent nearly 40 years of their married life working together in the printing industry. They founded their own company, Harper Corporation of America, in 1971. They made the firm the global leader in the printing roller industry and revolutionized printing quality with advanced technology. “Ron epitomized the American dream... he worked hard and smart and earned his success,” remembers Bill Dowdell, former FTA/FFTA Board Member and President. “He loved without condition, as long as those around him harbored the same virtues of integrity, hard work and compassion for what they did and with whom they worked. He and Katherine were very public about sharing their good fortunes so that others would emulate their actions. Both he and Katherine motivated hundreds to work with them in education, training and the development of young people to attain their own American dream. In all my years of work and collaboration with Ron and Katherine, I always witnessed a true caring for other people. Most importantly, they also enjoyed their life and never took anything for granted. Ron has left an honorable and valued legacy in his life on earth... time now to enjoy an eternity of peace and joy. ” Today, Harper Corporation of America operates factories in Charlotte, NC, Wisconsin, Germany and Thailand. Its founders helped establish flexographic printing programs in 21 high schools and 32 colleges in the U.S ., Canada, Argen- tina and Costa Rica with similar technical training programs. Ron Harper was passionately involved with the Flexographic Technical Association, its Foundation, and its highly success- ful Technical Education Services Team (TEST). There are flexo departments named for the Harpers at many colleges in the Carolinas, as well as in Chicago, California and Wisconsin. Central Piedmont Community Col- lege (CPCC) has the Harper Campus, The Harper National Flexographic Center and manages a Ron and Katherine Harper Scholarship Fund. Appalachian State University dedi- cated the Katherine Harper Hall in 2007. In 2009, the Harpers generously donated funds to the Clemson University graphics department. Mr. and Mrs. Harper co-chaired a drive in 1999 to raise $1 million for flexo education in high schools and donated the first $100,000. “When I think of Ron, one word comes to mind...a “gentle-man.” In all the years I knew Ron, I never heard him speak ill of anyone. He was a kind and gracious man. He gave his opinion without being overbearing. The world needs more people like Ron. He will be missed.” ~ Wally Nard, FTA Hall of Fame, 1988 “Ron and Katherine helped flexo and the FTA in many ways and will be remembered for their contributions.” ~ Jerry Shields, FTA Hall of Fame, 1990 Ron at work in old Crompton Street office. 1979 18 FLEXO mAY 2012 www.flexography.org