Civic leader, retired CEO and chairman of board for Lufkin Industries dies

Robert Poland (Source: Carroway Funeral Home)
Robert Poland (Source: Carroway Funeral Home)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - One of Lufkin's leading citizens died Monday.

Robert Linwood "Bob" Poland Sr., 94, worked his way up through the ranks of what was once the Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company. He served as the chief executive officer of Lufkin Industries and later as the company's chairman of the board before he retired.

Services for Poland will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at the First Christian Church of Lufkin with the Rev. Stephen Lantis officiating. Graveside services with military honors will follow in the Garden of Memories Memorial Park.

"In addition to his engineering profession, Mr. Poland was a soldier, scholar, poet and author of several books and numerous articles and publications such as "From the President's Desk" which he wrote for Lufkin Industries employees," stated the obituary from Carroway Funeral Home. "He was as well a tree farmer and part-time farmer and rancher. Above all, he was a wonderfully dedicated husband and family man."

Poland was born on May 4, 1919 in the small town of Manning. After attending schools in Manning and Shawnee Prairie, he graduated from Huntington High School in 1937. He earned his bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University in 1942, according to his obituary.

In May 1942, Poland was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. During World War II, he served with the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion with the Second Infantry Division in the European theater of the war, including D-Day+1, his obituary stated.

Poland was awarded the Bronze Star and the Croix de Guerre, "the highest decoration of France, awarded for its liberation, which was presented to him by Charles DeGaulle," according to his obituary. In addition, Poland received the Presidential Citation for Excellence in Combat during the Battle of the Bulge. He fought with the 2nd Infantry Division through Germany to Czechoslovakia until Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945.

Poland achieved the rank of major before he was honorably discharged from the Army in 1945.

When Poland returned from the war, he met and married Adell Slover on Nov. 21, 1945. He went to work as a design engineer for Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company, his obituary stated. He served as the chief of the gear division before he was made a director of the company in 1965.

"He was elected President and Chief Executive Officer in 1967 and Chairman of the Board of Lufkin Industries, Inc. in 1972," his obituary stated. "He retired in 1987."

In addition to serving as a member of the Angelina County Veterans Land Board and a trustee of the Kurth Memorial Library, Poland served as a director of the Salvation Army and was a 50-year member of the Lufkin Noon Host Lions Club.  He was a director of Lufkin National Bank and Lufkin Federal Savings and Loan Association, his obituary stated. He was a director of the East Texas Chamber of Commerce and president, and he was serving as the president of the Lufkin Chamber of Commerce when construction on the George H. Henderson Exposition Center was started in 1991.

"Mr. Poland was a founder and charter member of the Board of Trustees of Angelina College and a director and trustee of Memorial Hospital of Lufkin," the obituary stated. "Further, he served as a director of Texas Utilities."

Active in his church for more than 60 years, Poland served the chairman of the board, a deacon, and an elder for the First Christian Church of Lufkin.

Poland's wife, Adell, died in March 1991. His youngest son, John Slover Poland died in March 1980, and his daughter, Joy Dell Prendergast died in March 2012, his obituary stated.

The pallbearers at his funeral will be his eight grandchildren. Honorary pallbearers are all past and present employees of Lufkin Industries, Inc., according to his obituary.

In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to the Robert Poland Engineering Scholarship Fund or the Adell Poland Nursing Scholarship Fund at Angelina College, 3500 South First Street, Lufkin, Texas, 75904.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Carroway Funeral Home in Lufkin.

Memories and condolences may be added at the Carroway Funeral Home Website.

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