From the early 19th Century, the Acheson mission has been to invest in the future to enhance community life.
Port Huron inventor Dr. Edward G. Acheson (1856-1931) is recognized as a chemical genius. In 1908, he founded the worldwide business that bore his name, Acheson Colloids Co. A protégé of Thomas Edison, he held more than 150 U.S. and foreign patents for engineering and chemical processes. He was a charter member and past president of the Electrochemical Society. Among his most important inventions was Carborundum, an abrasive hard enough to cut diamonds. His patents included ones for making artificial graphite and purifying carbon, a boring machine used to mine coal and iron ore and telephone wires which he later sold to George Westinghouse.
Howard A. Acheson was born in Buffalo, New York, April 1, 1900. He received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1923 at Cornell University then pursued advanced studies at Cornell for six months. In 1926 he became associated with his father’s company, the Acheson Oildag Co. in Port Huron, Michigan, as a sales engineer. He served as sales manager and general manager of Acheson Oildag from 1928 to 1940. In July 1940, he acquired all the assets of the company from other family members and the name was changed to Acheson Colloids Corporation. The directors elected him president and chief executive officer. In early 1952 the name of the company was changed to Acheson Industries, Inc., and Acheson continued as president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board to 1971. He remained chairman of the board until his death in 1975.
James Curry Acheson was born in Port Huron Sept. 27, 1936, the son of Howard and Miriam (Felt) Acheson. He received his preliminary education in New York City and Massachusetts and is a 1955 graduate of the Culver (Indiana) Military Academy. He attended the University of Michigan, majoring in business administration, and followed this by extensive experience as a computer programmer at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Whippany, N.J., and at the University of Pennsylvania Computer Center in Philadelphia. Jim joined his father’s firm, Acheson Industries, Inc., as data processing manager in 1968, served in that capacity through 1973, and was controller of Acheson Colloids Company in Port Huron from 1973 to 1975. He was appointed corporate secretary in 1975, served as chairman of the board from 1979 to 1993, and chairman emeritus from 1994 to 1998, when the corporation was sold to Imperial Chemical Industries.
Following his education at the University of Michigan, Acheson joined the U.S. Army and served in the United States and Germany with the Finance Corps.
Acheson has been active in local community affairs, including vice president of the Community Foundation of St. Clair County and a trustee of the Port Huron Hospital and the St. Clair County Community College Foundation. He is a member of the Elks Lodge in Port Huron, Port Huron Golf Club and the Port Huron Power Squadron. Acheson’s principal interest in life, other than his family and business, revolves around maritime activities. He holds a Coast Guard master’s license; served on the U.S. Coast Guard’s Rules of the Road Advisory Council, is a past president of the Port Huron chapter of the International Shipmasters Association and as commodore of the Great Lakes Cruising Club. He is a member of the Grosse Pointe and New York yacht clubs.
Acheson was recognized for his philanthropy with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Port Huron’s Baker College. He was also recognized by the city of Port Huron with the Spirit of Port Huron Civic Award; by the state of Michigan with the Russell G. Mawby Award for Philanthropy; and by the Community Foundation of St. Clair County with its Distinguished Service Award.
Acheson has three children—Joseph, Daniel and Lawrence Acheson—and six grandchildren. An infant son, Scott, died in 1963.