ShareThis Page
Researcher took wood, made it better |
Obituary Stories

Researcher took wood, made it better

Stephen Huba
Joseph E. Ayers, 79, of Scottdale.

As an undergraduate student at West Virginia University, Joseph Ayres got in on the ground floor of a technology that increased the durability and uses of wood.

Mr. Ayres was involved with research efforts in the early 1960s that developed wood-plastic combinations using gamma irradiation techniques.

“It had never been done before,” daughter Sheila Myers said.

The process was described in a 1965 Popular Mechanics article titled “Wonderful World of Irradiated Miracles,” which referenced the pioneering work of WVU professors and students.

“The irradiated composites have amazing qualities. Depending on the kind of wood used, they are up to 900 percent harder than untreated stock,” the article said.

Joseph E. Ayres of Scottdale died Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, at his residence. He was 79.

Born in Oak Hill, W.Va., on March 19, 1939, he was a son of the late Joseph E. and Helen Louise (Hill) Ayres. He attended Collins High School, where he captained the football and basketball teams.

He graduated from WVU with a degree in forestry and from North Carolina State University with a master’s degree in wood technology.

He worked in his field for a number of companies, including U.S. Gypsum; Masonite, where he helped develop a patent as a research development engineer; and Woodcore, his daughter said.

He retired at age 70 after working as a plant manager for 30 years at Whibco in West Elizabeth. The company kept him on as a consultant until recently, Sheila Myers said.

“They called him a couple days before he passed away,” she said.

Mr. Ayres and his wife, Lola, met through a mutual friend and were married for 53 years. They lived in Scottdale for 33 years and raised three daughters.

“He had a lot of determination. Everything he did, he did it right. He always did the right thing,” his wife said.

When he wasn’t working, Mr. Ayres enjoyed seat caning, weaving, working with wood and refinishing furniture. He enjoyed working with Collections by Marty and other local businesses.

He also was an avid WVU fan and enjoyed camping, hiking and working around the house, his wife said.

Mr. Ayres was preceded in death by his brother, James, in 1964.

He is survived by his wife, Lola Ann (Cain) Ayres; three daughters, Pam Ayres-McCue and her husband, Kevin, of Jacksonville, Fla., Sheila Myers and her husband, Rich, of Greensburg, and Margaret “Maggie” Domasky, of Scottdale; and seven grandchildren.

Friends may call from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, and from 10-11 a.m. Tuesday, at the Robert B. Ferguson Funeral Home, 105 Spring St., Scottdale, where funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Graveside committal service and interment will follow in Scottdale Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, or via Twitter .

Categories: News | Obituaries
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.