Around New England

Chewing Gum Packaging Patent Holder Was Life of the Party

July 4, 2019

The patent holder for chewing gum packaging has died on Cape Cod, at 96.

Roger Putnam Jr. moved to Wellfleet in 1991 after retiring as chief executive and president of Package Machinery Company, in East Longmeadow, according to the Cape Cod Times.

The son of a mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts, Putnam threw himself into local politics on the Cape during his retirement, serving as a selectman in Wellfleet and later as a member of the Cape Cod Commission, a county agency that plans and regulates regional development on Cape Cod.

Putnam was the son of Roger Lowell Putnam (1893-1972), a member of two famous Boston Yankee families. The elder Putnam started as a salesman at Package Machinery Company and worked his way up to president. Along the way, he also served as three-term mayor of Springfield and was the 1942 Democratic nominee for governor. He also served as the sole trustee of Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, which under his leadership was responsible for discovering the existence of the planet Pluto in 1930.

His son Roger Putnam Jr. was the second of six children.

As a 16-year-old, Roger Jr. learned to fly, and he served as a combat pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

At Saturday morning breakfast meetings with other guys he would discuss his wartime experiences, world travels, adventures in packaging, cowboy and oilfield experiences, and local and national politics, according to a friend quoted by the Cape Cod Times.

Roger Putnam Jr. died at home June 20 of lung cancer, four years after being diagnosed. The Cape Cod Times published a feature obituary earlier this week.

A former selectman described Putnam to the Cape Cod Times this way:  “He had a lot of really big ideas, some of which worked out, some of which didn’t. He was very good at sizing up good management versus bad management. He was fun to be with. He had lots of great stories. He had a very distinguished family but talked about it not in a bragging way.”

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