Gordon A. Berkstresser

Gordon A. Berkstresser 1930­ – 2001
College of Textiles, NC State University

Gordon Abbott Berkstresser III December 23, 1930 – November 21, 2001
Years of Service at NC State Textiles 1978­ – 1998

 

Gordon Abbott Berkstresser III was born December 23, 1930 in Passaic, New Jersey to Gordon Abbott Berkstresser, II and Else Pohlers Berkstresser. He lived in Roanoke Rapids, NC. After high school, he attended NC State University and graduated with a BS Textiles in 1954 and later served a tour of duty in the US Army. (1) In 1964, he was named Assistant Manager of Towel Sales, Muscogee Mills div., Fieldcrest Mills, Inc., New York City. (2)

He began his 17 years of industrial experience working for Simtex Mills in textile design and sales. In 1957, he moved to J.P. Stevens and Co., Chicago, as regional sales manager. He joined Spring Air Co. in 1963 as national sales manager and moved to Fieldcrest Mills in 1965 as product manager­ticking and terry departments. He ended his industrial career with West­Point Pepperell in 1971 as director of new products. (5)

Starting in 1971, Dr. Berkstresser was employed by Fairleigh Dickenson University as Adjunct Professor of Management. He moved to Stockton State College in 1972, serving as assistant professor in marketing and later as associate professor in the same department. In 1972, he was named coordinator of the Business Studies Programs. He received his MBA in human resources management from Bernard Baruch College, New York, and completed the PhD in business from City University of New York (CUNY). He suffered from alcoholism and was the first to tell you that he could not take a single drink. His master’s thesis dealt with the alcoholic executive. His original motive for working toward the MBA was to” round myself out professionally, but my program exposed me to teaching, and frankly, I got hooked.” (5)

In 1978 and joined the faculty in the Textile Technology Department. He developed Textile Marketing and Textile Management programs that led the way to diversification from a strictly manufacturing orientation. “Management,” is a process, and as such, is eminently teachable.” In 1985, the College of Textiles reorganized to better coordinate the changes in curricula. The department of Textile Materials and Management (TMM) separated into a Textile Engineering and Science department headed by Sol Hersh and a Textile Management and Technology department, headed by Gordon. (3), page 190.

Gordon Berkstressser 1978 School of Textiles News

Gordon meets with a member of the NCSU Japan Center to discuss the program

He contributed a great deal toward getting students to think globally. Gordon reached out to Europe and Japan specifically. Exchanges brought scholars from Germany and Japan to interact with our students. (2) In the late 1980s, Gordon and Alan Hunter recognized the fact that the Textile Chemistry Department had characteristics in its program offerings that were lacking in TMM. Close relationships with Chemistry and Chemical Engineering meant dual degrees could be used to boost recruiting. The international connections both Alan and Gordon had were used to formulate a joint offering with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The Eli Whitney Program was created. (4, pages 207­9.)

In 1986, the National Science Foundation announced a proposal for engineering research centers. In 1987, Gordon and Rusty King of Industrial Engineering put forth a proposal “Modeling the Fiber, Textile and Apparel Pipeline” that was included with two others in NC State’s response. This proposal was not funded by NSF but led to revisions and funding under a new Center for Research in Apparel, Fiber and Textile Manufacturing, CRAFTM, funded by the university, industry and the Textile Foundation. (4, pages 172­3)

Gordon was a forward thinker as the new college building was planned in the late 1980s. He correctly insisted that many parking places would be needed to accommodate industrial visitors. He felt we needed a heliport or at least a landing space to allow easy visitation by industrial kingpins in the industry. Many discounted his flamboyant ideas. He may have exaggerated but he was on the right track. People would come.

He was active in the National Textile Center, established with a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1992. A consortium was formed to unite four participating southeastern universities NCSU, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Auburn. (4, pages 211-­212)

He retired in 1998 and became Professor Emeritus in the Department of Textile and Apparel Technology and Management. He died of head injuries from a fall while traveling through South Carolina on a Thanksgiving trip to Florida. He was preceded in death by his wife, Betsy Berkstresser (1980) and his brother, Tom (1995). Surviving children: Elsa B. Hergeth; Susan B. Kaminsky; Mary B. Monck; son, Gordon IV, PhD; nine grandchildren; one niece; two nephews. (1,3).

Selected Publications:

  1. Berkstresser, Gordon A., III and David R. Buchanan, Automation and Robotics in the Textile and Apparel Industries, Elsevier, 1986
  2. Berkstresser, Gordon A., III, Textile Marketing Management, Noyes Publications 1984.

Sources:

  1. Dr. Gordon A. Berkstresser III, obituary, Raleigh News & Observer, November 2001.
  2. Textile Forum, June 1964, page 56.
  3. Personal communication, Helmut Hergeth, January 12, 2012.
  4. Mock, Gary N., A Century of Progress: The Textile Program North Carolina State University 1899­1999, North Carolina Textile Foundation, Raleigh, 2001.
  5. “Management Expert Faculty Addition,” School of Textiles News, Vol. 10, No. 4, October 1978.