by Eileen De Guire
The Society was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Thomas Edwin “Ted” Day on Sept. 14, 2020, a few weeks shy of his 60th birthday.
Ted led a life characterized by caring and compassion as a family man, pharmacist, businessman, philanthropist, Society volunteer, and leader in his Rolla, Mo., community.
“Ted was an energetic, enthusiastic guy, the epitome of joie de vive, one who didn’t see life’s limitations or problems, only the opportunities and the adventure,” says Richard Brow, Curator’s Professor of Ceramic Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Mo. Brow and Day served together on the ACerS Board of Directors from 2010–2014.
The son of ACerS Distinguished Life Member and past president Delbert Day, Ted began his professional career in pharmacy. In the mid-1990s, Ted joined the Phelps County Regional Medical Center, where he served as director of pharmacy and then as ancillary services director, a position in which he oversaw all clinical patient services.
Ted left PCRMC in 1998 to assume the role of CEO at Mo-Sci Corporation, a glass manufacturing company founded in 1985 by Prof. Day to commercialize inventions developed in his lab at Missouri S&T. Today, Mo-Sci develops and manufactures custom high-tech glass products for the healthcare, energy, automotive, defense, and industrial sectors.
“Ted was a visionary, one who could see potential and make it a reality. He was an astute businessman, one who built the company his father started into an international specialty materials powerhouse, while never losing his enthusiasm and excitement about what Mo-Sci was producing and about the people who made it possible,” says Brow.
Ted returned to PCRMC in the mid-2010s to serve as its Foundation’s president and chair of its Board of Trustees. He and his wife, Kim, donated initial funding for the Phelps Health Delbert Day Cancer Institute, which honors the work of Prof. Day, especially his biomedical inventions, such as glass microspheres for radiation therapy, bioactive glasses for wound and bone repair, and dental applications.
Ted’s roles as a healthcare provider and business leader intersected with the commercialization of a copper-containing borosilicate glass called Mirragen that promotes healing of persistent wounds. The product, Mirragen, helps heal wounds that resist conventional treatment and offers new hope to patients suffering, for example, from diabetic and quadriplegic wounds. Mo-Sci spun off a new company, ETS Wound Care, to manufacture such wound care products, and Ted served as its CEO. His vision was to make the healing technology available and affordable to those who need it most.
Ted saw his success as a means to improve his local and global community. With his wife, he established the TKD Foundation to “turn innovative ideas into real help for humankind.” Funded with profits from ETS Wound Care, the Foundation supports education, healthcare, community, and new nonprofit organizations that share their vision for a world where people’s most basic needs are met.
Ted was passionate about reaching out to young people and did not delegate his enthusiasm. When high school students from Conrad Weiser High School’s Science Research Institute program in rural Pennsylvania reached out to Mo-Sci requesting sample glass fibers, he took the time to visit them and talk to them about their projects. He followed up by inviting several students and teachers to come to Mo-Sci to pitch ideas for new products.
This experience was a continuation of the hands-on approach Ted took with his dedication to philanthropy and outreach. In 2015, he helped to found ACerS’s philanthropic arm, the Ceramic & Glass Industry Foundation, with the mission to recruit and retain a qualified workforce for the ceramic and glass industry. He served as its first chair from 2015–2018.
“Ted had a passion to help people and to give back to the community. His contribution of time, treasure, and talent to The American Ceramic Society and its Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation was extraordinary. We all have benefitted from Ted’s tremendous drive to make the world a better place. We will miss him greatly,” says Mark Mecklenborg, ACerS executive director.
Ted joined the Society in 1998, became a Fellow in 2016, and belonged to the Manufacturing Division and Bioceramics Division. Mo-Sci is a long-standing Diamond Corporate Partner of the Society.
At the time of his death, Ted was also a member of the Missouri S&T Board of Trustees.
“As a member of the Missouri S&T Board of Trustees, he played the same vital role that he did when serving on the Boards of The American Ceramic Society and the Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation—a clear-eyed visionary, a data-driven, results-oriented, compassionate colleague, one who loved the institution and respected those in it,” says Brow.
Ted, like his father, was an accomplished pilot, and it was common for them to fly themselves to ACerS conferences. The first question on greeting the Days was always, “Did you fly or go commercial?” He piloted himself through life with grace and joy. His final trip now completed, we are grateful to have shared the journey with him.
Ted is survived by his wife, Kimberly; son Bret; father, Delbert; five grandchildren and an extended family; and many personal and professional friends. Visitation will be Friday, Sept. 18, and the funeral services will be Saturday, Sept. 19, in Rolla, Mo. Details are available at the funeral home website, and the funeral will be livestreamed by the First United Methodist Church Rolla.