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Lemont Braden McCracken

Memorial for Lemont Braden McCracken

Born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania on Mar. 3, 1928
Departed on Aug. 22, 2012 and resided in Corvallis, OR.
Memorial Service: Friday, Sep. 14, 2012
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Lemont (Monty) Braden McCracken passed away at his home in Corvallis, Oregon, August 22, 2012, after a long battle with Pancreatic Cancer.

He was born to Lemont E. McCracken and Cecil G. Braden McCracken, in Latrobe, PA at the family home on Miller Street. He is preceded in death by his father Lemont E. and mother Cecil McCracken; brother Joseph L. McCracken and sister Diane B. Confair; foster sons Ronald L. Roeder and William Odom.

He is survived by his devoted and loving wife of 64 years Ruth Ann (Woleslagle) McCracken, formerly of Ligonier, PA; sister Phyllis Jane Humphreys of Derry, PA; brother, The Rev. David B. McCracken of Albany, Oregon; sons Lemont R. (Storm) McCracken of Philomath, OR, Rob McCracken of Turner, OR; daughters Susan McCracken Cautley of Oregon City, OR, Terre Kaiara Christensen of Sisters, OR; and foster son Sam Nuygen of Honolulu, HI; 9 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.

Monty was a constant companion of his grandfather James McCracken (until his death in 1937), from whom he learned his guiding principles in life, "Your Word is Your Bond" and "Treat everyone you meet with the same respect as you would expect."

Monty never met a stranger, and he and Ruth Ann raised three foster sons along with their four children. He will be well remembered for his sense of humor and incredible generosity.

He was a graduate, football player and track star at Derry Township High School, a Boy Scout, and competed at the 1948 Olympic Trials, in the Decathlon. He also was an alumni of The University of Pittsburgh and Oregon State University.

Monty's gift and passion was extractive metallurgy, and his early employment was at The Pearce Mfg. Co., and Kennametal in Latrobe PA. He developed the first commercial process to reduce Columbium (Niobium). He developed a cobalt process still used by industry today, and was the holder of numerous patents and processes. He found evidence of cobalt in Cameroon, Africa that turned out to be one of the largest cobalt discoveries in the world.

He moved to Oregon in 1957, to help set up the Columbium and Tantalum side at Wah Chang in Albany, he later started his own company Transition Metals.

He was severely burned in an industrial explosion at Wah Chang in 1964, and again at his company in 1974. He was regarded as the most burned man on the planet, with 148 % of his body burned 2nd and 3rd degree. The years after his second accident he battled with the loss of his eyesight, but that would not keep him from building a car battery plant in Cameroon, Africa, working on gold mines in Puerto Rico, New Mexico, Honduras, and Oregon. He also developed the materials for the combustion chambers on the first modern steam powered bus and car. His work in Niobium was directly responsible for the development of the MRI, the engines and heat shields on the Apollo Space Craft, the Lunar Landers, and a host of high tech aircraft, including the Atomic Airplane.

He was cited by three U.S Presidents, two African Presidents, two Prime Ministers, numerous captains of industry, and a Prince of Bhutan. He was a friend and confidant of aviation pioneer Bill Lear, who once introduced him "as the smartest man he knew."

Monty held many leadership positions at Calvin Presbyterian Church and with many other Presbyterian churches all over the world. He was a lifetime member of the Masons, Ligonier (PA), Lodge #331. Monty was an accomplished organist, harmonica player and vocalist, and sang a love song to Ruth Ann at their 60th wedding anniversary party.

A book could be written on just half of Monty's life and his legacy will live on in hundreds of his accomplishments. He truly was a citizen of the world, and will be missed by his many friends and family.

A memorial service is planned for Sept. 14th 11:00 AM, at the Calvin Presbyterian Church in Corvallis, OR. The Rev. David McCracken will be officiating. Any memorial contributions can be made in Monty's name to Benton County Hospice, 2350 NW Professional Drive, Corvallis, OR 97330.

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