William C. Stuckey, Jr

Professor Emeritus
NC State University College of Textiles

William C. (Bill) Stuckey, Jr. 1923-
Years of Service NCSU Textiles 1947-1989

William C. “Bill” Stuckey, Jr. was born on his maternal grandfather’s farm near Spivey’s Corner in Johnston County, North Carolina on May 19, 1923.  His father, William Clifton Stuckey, was a tenant farmer who married the proverbial farmer’s daughter, Martha “Mattie” Wiggs.  Bill’s father grew tired of farming and decided to move the family to Durham and go into the grocery business with his brother-in-law.  After five years, the family moved again to Wayne County.  Bill was raised in Goldsboro, NC and completed his schooling there in 1940.  He enrolled at NC State College in the fall of 1940.  During his sophomore year, Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941.  The next day, he joined thousands across the United States who dropped out of school and planned to enlist.  His father convinced him to at least remain in school and finish the semester.  Before finally enlisting in the US Army Air Corps in February 1942, Bill worked for the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company for a year. After pilot training, he was assigned to the 9th Army Air Force in Europe.  When interviewed for the School of Textiles News, he said, “I saw about six months of combat and then the war was over.”  He remained in Europe another year with occupational forces and then came home and worked for his dad until a space opened at the textile school.

He returned to Raleigh and the School of Textiles in September 1947.  He and his wife, the former Celeste Nelms of Rocky Mount, NC, lived in “Vetville”, a “string of barracks for other couples like ourselves.”  The barracks were torn down after the surge of post-war students finished their degrees.  High-rise dormitories were built to house the mostly single men who enrolled in the 1950s and onward.  He reminisced, “We’ve seen a lot of changes.  When I first came back, the School consisted of one small building with one-third of the present (1974) facilities.”  The influx of veterans returning to the college accounted for a swollen enrollment of 900 students.

After earning his B.S. Textile Technology in 1950, Stuckey went right into the graduate degree program.  “There were only two of us (graduate students) at that time,” he recalled, compared to the over 50 textile graduate students in 1974 and nearly a hundred in recent years.  He was awarded a teaching fellowship and soon realized that he had found his career.  Somehow he fit teaching, research and fathering in and in 1955, he was awarded an MS in Textile Manufacturing.

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New Faculty Member (1)

Quality Audit Short Course Attendees (4)

Performing research and service projects for industrial sponsors was a rapidly growing area in the 1950s.  Stuckey soon found he was spending a great deal of time in the area of testing new fibers, yarns and finishes.   One of the major research programs, the Quality Audit Program, spanned six years from 1959 through 1965.  It was an industrially-sponsored project where the school acted as independent auditors supplying the yarn quality in both carded and combed cotton, man-made, and blends of man-made and cotton fibers.  Approximately 45 mills were involved with around one and a half million spindles sampled each year.  About one dozen full-time technicians tested the collected samples twice each year. “The information gave us a feel for what could be expected of yarn quality,” said Stuckey, who acted as the operating manager for the program.  All the information was reported to the mills, giving them an idea of their relative position regarding the quality of their yarn.

Stuckey and Students at Fieldcrest Mills
Courtesy: NCSU Archives

The work on yarn quality led to the development of courses for graduate and undergraduate students.  Stuckey taught “Textile Measurements and Quality Control,” basically a statistics course for undergraduates and graduates; and “Special Topics in Testing,” where a developing subject of interest to students and industry was explored.

Stuckey with Student Jeff Atwell in Physical Testing Lab 1974 (7)

Bill at an Association of Retired Faculty Luncheon Feb. 2012 hoisting a “wee dram” in honor of Robbie Burns

Stuckey advised an average of 25 undergraduate students each year and guided the work of countless graduate students.  Virtually every graduate student in Textiles passed through the lab at one time or another to learn how to properly take data and how to assess the results in a meaningful way.

Bill and his wife, Celeste, raised four children.

The Textile Testing Laboratory by Peter R. Lord May 12, 2012

When I arrived in Raleigh in 1968 as a visitor, one of the parts of the School of Textiles that caught my eye was the Textile Testing Laboratory with its up-to-date equipment and good management.  Bill Stuckey was in charge and he remained so during my whole career in Raleigh. I believe that the Textile Testing Lab was a jewel in the crown that was the textile school.  In the early days, the school ran a program of testing samples of textile material from across North Carolina and even beyond.  The personnel of those days realized the potential of bringing together the discipline of harmonic analysis and statistics to detect the causes of irregularities in slivers, yarns and many other products.  As far as the knowledge was concerned they were running neck and neck with the infant Uster Corporation textile section from Switzerland.  Unfortunately, the passage of the Umstead Act by the NC Legislature stopped the school in its tracks in the venture.  Had it not been so, and if the management of the school had fully realized its potential, an institute competition with Uster could have developed here – a missed opportunity.

In those days Bill Stuckey was at the heart of the enterprise.  Dame Hamby and Elliot Grover wrote the book on the subject, but it was Bill Stuckey – first in the field, then in the lab who became the ultimate source of knowledge.  Under his control, computing was added to facilitate the testing.  He worked with the computing center on campus, first with punched cards, then with a line through a new tunnel that was built across campus. Soon he had computing linked to the testing machines and to the central campus as well as the University system.  Instead of waiting for weeks for the results to emerge from the testing, for much of my time, the statistical data was delivered immediately.  Few at the school, let alone on campus, realized what contributions he made.

 

Sources:

  1. School of Textiles Adds Three New Staff, Textile Forum, October 1952, pages 35-36.
  2. Stuckey, William C., “A Costly Nuisance… Static Electricity,” Textile Forum, February 1955, pages 25-26.
  3. Stuckey, William C., “A Costly Nuisance… Static Electricity, Part II,” Textile Forum, April 1955, pages 13-14.
  4. Stuckey, William C., “Statistical Quality Control Short Course Announced at NC State,” Textile ForumFebruary 1960, pages 16-17.
  5. Stuckey, William C., Quality Audit, Textile Forum, December 1959, page 18.
  6. Stuckey, William C., The Quality Audit Program –Programmed for Industry, Textile Forum, June 1964, pages 8-13.
  7. Know Your Faculty – William C. (Bill) Stuckey, School of Textiles News, Vol. 6, No. 2, 1974, page 2.