BY STEVE YOUNG
Paul H. Vishny, former General Counsel and Secretary of AICC, The Independent Packaging Association, passed away on Wednesday, April 22, in Beachwood, Ohio, following a long illness. He was 89.
Paul was born in Chicago in 1931. He was a graduate of University of Illinois and DePaul University School of Law. He was also an ordained Rabbi, having received his rabbinical degree in 1957 from Hebrew Theological College in Chicago. Over the course of his legal career he was a partner in several Chicago firms, including Kopstein & Vishny, D’Ancona & Pflaum, and later Seyfarth Shaw. Paul served as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of AICC for 40 years – from the day of the Association’s founding in 1974 until his retirement from legal practice in 2014.
I first met Paul in 1983, when I began working for the Association in its Alexandria, Virginia, office. In those early days of the Association, when the corrugated industry was rocked with antitrust suits and unethical dealings on seemingly every front, it fell to Paul to be the voice of calm amid the storm. He was the attentive, sometimes assertive, presence at the meetings of the Board of Directors and its various committees of the day. He acted as secretary, parliamentarian, umpire and even father-confessor. He was the moral compass for the Association’s actions.
Paul’s role made him a confidante and close collaborator of AICC’s elected leadership, and many have come forward with special memories and tributes. Past Chairman Greg Tucker (2013-2014), CEO of Bay Cities in Pico Rivera, California, knew Paul for more than 35 years and remembers him as the “ballast” and the “conscience” of the Association. Echoing that theme, Past President Jim Davis (1999-2000), formerly of DeLine Box Co., said, “His rabbinical sense of justice kept us on the straight and narrow.”
Chuck Fienning, former owner of Sumter Packaging, in Sumter, South Carolina, and AICC Chairman in 2012-2013, said, “In all the years I knew him, he demonstrated the professional demeanor, knowledge, integrity and concern for AICC that helped guide our leadership over the decades.”
Past Chair Cindy Baker (2005-2006), formerly of Scope Packaging and now with New-Indy triPAQ in Cerritos, California, called Paul “a true gentleman in every sense. When I think of him I have nothing but warmth in every memory.” Another Californian, Bob Thacker, who served as AICC President in 1987-1988 when he was owner of Thacker Container Company, remembers Paul for his “wise counsel” and as a “peacemaker.” He added: “In the evening with a glass of red wine in hand, he was my drinking buddy too.”
Past President Joseph R. Palmeri (1996-1997), COO of Jamestown Container Companies in Falconer, New York, recalled the “privilege of working with Paul on many projects such as SuperCorrExpo and FirstPak. He was always helpful and available for any question I may have had.”
Past President Craig Hoyt (2000-2001) agreed, saying, “I specifically remember what great advice he gave to us during our negotiations for our long-term SuperCorrExpo agreement with TAPPI.” Said Greg Arvanigian, who served as AICC Chairman in 2001-2002, said, “Paul was always the calm voice of reason in the room.”
Larry Cooper, former owner of C&B Display Packaging in Mississauga, Ontario, and AICC Chairman in 2003-2004, called Paul “the wonderful, steady hand that guided AICC though the years. He will be missed.” Andrew Pierson, AICC Chairman in 2011-2012 when he was President and CEO of Mid-Atlantic Packaging in Montgomeryville, Pa., said simply, “We have lost a treasure.”
Paul’s influence and persona resonates with those whose history with AICC is far shorter. Said AICC General Counsel David Goch, who succeeded Paul on his retirement in 2014, “Despite his unmatched tenure as AICC’s General Counsel, he willingly, with no hesitation, entrusted his ‘baby’ to me.”
AICC President Mike D’Angelo, said, “For me, an AICC meeting didn’t truly start until Paul spoke. He had the most wonderful voice. “Gentle Steel” is how I referred to it then and how I recall it now. It was one of those things that made AICC, well, AICC.”
Paul is also remembered along with Dick Troll, a founder, past president and the first executive director of AICC, as the architect of the International Corrugated Packaging Foundation (ICPF). He authored several editions of our antitrust guidelines, the first of which was drafted in the wake of the Houston Corrugated Container Case, and he was instrumental in the development of an industry-wide antitrust education program following.
He recognized the contribution of the industry’s suppliers and urged AICC into profitable partnerships in industry trade and machinery shows where suppliers and members could come together. AICC’s current, longtime partnership with TAPPI in our jointly owned SuperCorrExpo franchise is one of the fruits of his work. He also worked with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Canadian Bureau of Competition to lay the groundwork for our FirstPak program. For all he did for AICC, he was named into the Association’s Hall of Fame in 1991.
Outside his service to AICC, he also served as General Counsel for the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), and he authored legal treatises on international trade. He was also a scholar of Judaic law, and authored “The Siddur Companion,” a book to help others of faith to better understand the prayers of the Jewish people.
Paul was preceded in death by his wife, Michele, in March of 2019, and is survived by three daughters: Deborah S. Vishny; Renana A. Friedman and Miriam L. Vishny; and four grandchildren.
Memorial contributions may be made to Vinney Hospice of Montefiore, 1 David N. Myers Parkway, Beachwood, Ohio 44122, or the Alzheimer’s Association.