Paul W. Nordt Jr., known to many as “Grandpa Nordt,” and “The Chief,” died on Jan. 18, 2004. He resided with his wife, Lois, in Roanoke, Va., and would have celebrated his 90th birthday next month.
Nordt was born in Newark, N.J., on Feb. 28, 1914, and he and his three brothers grew up in the neighboring town of East Orange. In 1935, he earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Newark College of Engineering (which later became New Jersey Institute of Technology) and did graduate work at Columbia and New York Universities.
In 1939, he married the former Lois J. Ormiston, also of East Orange, and began his career as a mechanical engineer working for Automatic Switch Co. of New York City. During World War II, Paul worked for Raytheon on the early development of Navy radar. In 1946 he assumed leadership of the John C. Nordt Company from his father Paul W. Nordt Sr. and uncle Carl H. Nordt, and in 1954 led the company to expansion with a move to Cedar Grove, N.J. During the Cedar Grove years he developed the extrusion process for precious metals and continuously advanced the company technologically.
Nordt served on the boards of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, MJSA, and Jewelry Information Council and was a member (since 1969) of the 24 Karat Club of the City of New York. He also held a life membership in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, pioneered the Polity Club, served his alma mater through lecturing, and was active in Boy Scouting for most of his life. He served on the board of education in Caldwell, N.J., from 1952-1959, including two years as chairman, and was active in the Presbyterian Church all his life, teaching Sunday School for many years and serving as a church Elder since 1943. Nordt was deeply involved in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery, Ala., in 1964.
Nordt is survived by his wife, Lois; two sons, Paul III and Robert; a daughter, Martha; and a brother, Robert A. Nordt, of New Jersey. He also leaves seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, as well as numerous nephews and nieces and a huge extended “family” who knew and loved him and called him “Grandpa.”