Robert D Swain

April 6th, 1929 to April 21st, 2019


The plastics industry lost another legend on April 21st 2019. Robert D. Swain, founder of Chroma Corporation and honorary member of the Plastics Pioneers Association passed away peacefully at his home in East China, MI surrounded by family and friends.

Swain entered the plastics industry in 1951 when he was hired by Gordon Brown (of the PPA’s much traveled shirt fame) Vice President of Bakelite Division of Union Carbide Plastics. From 1952-1954 he served in the Army at the Army Chemical Center and was discharged as a sergeant. Returning to Union Carbide he worked for Dr. Quales on the Vinyl Fellowship at Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh, PA and had several assignments as the technical representative in Philadelphia, PA, Washington D.C., and Cincinnati OH. In 1959 Swain joined Enjay Chemical Company as Exxon made its entry into the polyolefin world. Innovation was his hallmark as he developed specialty polypropylene compounds for Aladdin (Thermos), Ford (Steering Wheel) and Maytag (agitators). In 1967 he founded Chroma Corporation in McHenry, IL to custom compound colorants for thermoplastic compounds. From a 1400 square feet start up facility he grew the manufacturing operation to over 200,000 square feet due to innovation in color.

In 1978 Swain was invited to join the prestigious Plastics Pioneers Association and later served as its Managing Director. In 1984 a fire totally destroyed a new 25,000 square foot plant. Yet Swain shipped product four days later from a competitors plant which he was invited into work for the next 4 months while locating temporary facilities while the plant was rebuilt.

In 2009 Swain was indoctrinated into the Plastics Hall of Fame. He was only the second person in the color compounding industry to be admitted to the Hall of Fame.

Swain’s hobbies included golf, sailing and playing his ukulele. With John Kretsmahr, Ellis Bignell and Jim Stoddart he participated in four consecutive Irish Open Fold Golf Tournaments in Palm Springs, CA.

As an avid American Navigator, Swain owned fifteen sailboats during his lifetime and was active in the One Design Racing and Cruising. He served on the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes Cruising Club, while extensively cruising the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay in a Columbia 43. Salt water cruising was primarily on the East Coast making three Blue Water passages from Maine to the British Virgin Islands.

Swain moved from Illinois to Michigan in 2005. Following the sale of Chroma Corporation, he became a self-published author of children’s books with the release of GRANDMA’S ROBIN and GRANDMA’S RAGDOLL. In St. Clair, MI, Bob took an active part in the community when he joined the local barbershop choral group. He also joined the Rotary Club and became an active sponsor to the K.I.D.S (Kids in distress), S.C.T.G. (St. Clair Theatre Guild), and several community improvement projects.

Robert Duncan Swain was born to parents Florence and Charles Swain in Cape May, NJ on April 6, 1929. Bob is preceded in death by his wife Judy Acheson Swain; his first wife and mother of his children JoAnn Idell Swain, and Brother Charles A. Swain, III. Bob will be deeply missed by his loving children, Susan S. Faurot (Alexander), Stuart D. Swain (Toni), and Megan S. Bogle; cherished grandchildren, Alexander Faurot, Katherine Bogle, William Faurot, Peter Bogle Jr., Harry Bogle, Skyla Swain, and Keelen Swain.

A remembrance gathering will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 25, 2019 in the Marysville Funeral Home, 1200 Michigan Avenue, Marysville, MI with a Memorial Service following at 12:00 p.m. A reception will immediately follow at the Voyageur Restaurant, 525 S. Riverside Ave. St. Clair MI until 4:00pm.

Memorial contributions may be made to Blue Water Hospice. To send condolences, visit

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