1999 Distinguished Service Award: Harvey Spangler

// Chemical & Biological Engineering

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Harvey D. Spangler
Ammonia Plant Manager (retired)
Farmland Industries
Sherman, Texas
BSChE ’56

Although Harvey D. Spangler’s engineering career took him as far afield as the Philippines, his work was never very far from his farming roots in Loyal, Wisconsin.

After he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1956 with a BS in chemical engineering and a commission in the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Spangler worked for what is now the Exxon Research & Engineering Co. in New Jersey. Initially he focused on fluid catalytic cracker operating problems, and later designed various refinery and chemical plants.

Spangler contributed his design expertise as one of a small group of engineers who helped develop Exxon’s ammonia and fertilizer business in the 1960s. Because of the division’s success, Exxon sent Spangler to the Philippines as a start-up engineer for a fertilizer plant it was constructing there.

In 1967 he joined Farmland Industries, a Kansas City-based farmers’ cooperative and the largest fertilizer manufacturer in the free world at the time. At Farmland, he was involved in designing, constructing and operating the ammonia-manufacturing plant in Dodge City, Kansas, and three years later he took a more business-oriented position. As manager of the ammonia plant in Fort Dodge, Iowa, he not only solved operating problems but developed business relationships with employees, customers, suppliers, peers and other professionals.

In 1979 Spangler was selected to be a member of the Ammonia Safety Committee, a subcommittee of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AICHE), and was the committee’s chair in 1985. He also was chair of the AICHE Safety and Health Division in 1989. He retired in 1991.

Among his contributions to ammonia-plant design is a patented system that makes high-pressure process steam using low-temperature heat. The system is co-patented worldwide.

These days, at his Sherman, Texas, home, Spangler enjoys woodworking, shooting, fishing, dancing and traveling. His son, Allan, is a retired U.S. Marine living in Oceanside, California. His daughter, Karen Walton, lives in Berea, Ohio, and like her father, has a BS in chemical engineering. She also has an MS in environmental engineering.