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Kenneth N. Edwards

by Susan J. Ainsworth
June 17, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 24


Kenneth N. Edwards, 80, retired chief executive officer of Dunn-Edwards Paints and an accomplished polymer chemist, died in his Glendale, Calif., home on Feb. 20.

Born in Hollywood, Calif., Edwards received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Occidental College in 1954 and an M.S. in chemical and metallurgical engineering in 1955 from the University of Michigan.

Edwards worked as a principal chemist in the coatings division of Battelle Memorial Institute, in Columbus, Ohio, until 1958. He then joined Dunn-Edwards in Los Angeles, which his father owned. He served as director of new-products research and development until 1971. Leaving the company briefly, he worked as a consultant and was senior lecturer in the University of Southern California’s chemical engineering department. After returning to Dunn-Edwards, he served as CEO from 2001 until 2011. He held numerous patents.

Joining ACS in 1954, Edwards served as chairman of the Southern California Section and the Division of Polymeric Materials: Science & Engineering (PMSE). He was also a founding member of the Division of Chemical Health & Safety. Edwards was also an active member of the professional chemistry fraternity Alpha Chi Sigma.

He received an ACS Regional Industrial Innovation Award in 2003 and a Distinguished Service Award from PMSE in 1996.

Edwards was a devoted supporter of California Polytechnic State University, in San Luis Obispo, which named its Kenneth N. Edwards Western Coatings Technology Center in his honor.

A man of eclectic interests, Edwards actively pursued his love of cooking, fishing, sailing, flying, and pheasant hunting. He also earned a sixth-degree black belt in judo.

He is survived by his sons, Neil, Peter, and John, and nine grandchildren.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.



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