Page 8 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology - April 2019
P. 8

Goodbye, “Mr. Wire Rope”

            A Tribute to Donald Sayenga, June 4, 1934 – February 26, 2019

                                                  by Barbara Spencer
         “’Mr. Wire Rope’…Don Sayenga was so named by Jurgen Prohaska of Kulkoni,
         Inc. during the April [1988] Associated Wire Rope Fabricators (AWRF) meeting
         in St. Petersburg, Florida.” And so begins a June 1988 article in Wire Rope News
         announcing that Don had been appointed Executive Director and Secretary for the
         AWRF. Over his 29-year career at Bethlehem Steel Corp., and in many leadership
         roles during and after, Don was the quintessential expert on wire rope and just
         about everything related to it. Editor’s Note: The following story is based, in part,
         on that April 1988 article.

                 hen asked back in 1988 how
                 he  felt about being  dubbed
         W“Mr. Wire Rope”  by Jurgen
         Prohaska of Kulkoni, Inc., Don replied,
         “It took me years and years to learn
         about wire rope, and I can name ten
         guys who know lots more than I do and
         are better deserving of the title. But
         Jurgen has been a competitor of mine,
         so that is an honor.”
           Don was a self-made expert on the
         evolution of technology, especially
         wire rope technology. He has written
         books and articles — many for Wire
         Rope News & Sling Technology. And
         he was particularly fascinated by wire
         rope history.
           “When feeling extremely egotisti-
         cal,” he said, “I sometimes pride myself
         on being one of the very few people in
         the world who knows something of all

                                            Don Sayenga speaks at an industry conference. Photo courtesy Associated Wire Rope Fabricators.
                                            there is to know about wire rope: rod   a teacher.  But one  could  argue that
                                            making, wire making, rope and strand   Don was genetically pre-disposed to
                                            manufacturing,  technology,  engineer-  work in the industry. “Both my grand-
                                            ing,  financing,  marketing,  selling  and   fathers had worked in the hot and
                                            inventorying are all the primary as-  grimy end of the iron  and steel busi-
                                            pects of the business, and I’ve been in-  ness,” he explained, “one as a puddling
                                            volved in all. I know a lot about how   furnaceman for Jones & Laughlin, and
                                            the business evolved.”             the other as a galvanizing foreman for
                                              Then Don added, “In reality, howev-  Oliver Wire.”
                                            er, I am constantly startled by what I   To help finance his way through La-
                                            don’t know about wire rope and about   fayette, he worked during hot Pennsyl-
                                            business in general. I’m  not a quick   vania summers at a blast furnace and
                                            thinker. I’m master of the ‘slow come-  coke works.  “I was a member of the
                                            back.’ Sometimes I have to mull some-  United Steelworkers myself,” he said.
                                            thing for months before I begin to un-  While attending Lafayette  College,
                                            derstand the gist of it.”          Don participated in football, track and
                                                                               field,  choir  and  wrestling.  Don  con-
                                            Born Into The Wire Rope Industry                    continued on page 10
         Don Sayenga had a passionate concern
         for preserving the rich history of the wire   Don grew up in Pittsburgh. His dad   All photos courtesy of The Sayenga Family archives
         rope industry.                     worked for a bank, and his mother was   unless otherwise noted.
         8      Wire Rope News & Sling Technology   April 2019
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