Henry Dourif Biography
by Robert J. Baptista, September 22, 2006
Henri Dourif (1881-1967) Co-founder of Standard Ultramarine and Color Company
Photo Courtesy of Joan Campbell (Click to Enlarge)
Henri Dourif, cofounder of Standard Ultramarine and Color Company in Huntington, West Virginia, was born in France on April 15, 1881.  He
graduated from Ecole Centrale in 1904 with the degree of Ingenieur des Arts et Manufactures and then took military training at Nimes.  In 1906 he
began his industrial career as an engineer with Deschamps Freres, a French company that produced the ultramarine blue pigment.  Later he
worked in the same industry in England.  

Dourif was traveling to South America in 1910 when he stopped in New York.  He was contacted by Omar T. Frick, founder of Standard Ultramarine,
and hired to solve operating problems in Frick’s first plant in Tiffin, Ohio.  Dourif was successful and began a close business relationship with Frick
that would last almost 40 years.  Dourif’s technical abilities in the field of pigments complemented Frick’s business development and management
skills.  The company soon outgrew its location in Ohio and moved to Huntington in 1912, where a new plant was constructed and started up in 1913.  

At the outbreak of World War I, Dourif took leave from the company, returning to France where he served in the French Aviation Service.  He had held
a reserve commission of Lieutenant in the French Field Artillery and joined his unit in France in September 1914.  This was in time for the first Battle
of the Marne.  Lt. Dourif was made Captain in 1915.  He helped develop a method of locating German artillery batteries and organized a corps of
observers.  This was harrowing duty since the low-flying planes were easy targets for enemy guns.  The reconnaissance reports were tossed out of
the plane to the commanders on the ground and the plane dashed back to the front lines.  While riding in observer planes, Dourif could spot poor
artillery work of the French Army, which was previously unreported.  Dourif was awarded the Croix de Guerre, the highest French military honor, for
correcting reports that the artillery performance was good.

Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell was in France on behalf of the American Army and made Capt. Dourif his tactical assistant.  Some nine years later,
Gen. Mitchell praised the young Captain, saying “Capt. Dourif of the French Air Service came down to see me...He had been in the United States for a
long time, and was very superior, energetic and well-poised.”  

In 1917 Dourif represented France as a member of an international commission organized to increase production of airplanes, which were largely
made of wood.  Other members included Lt.-Col. L. W. B. Reese, a leading airman from Great Britain; Maj. Rafaello Perfetti, Italy; and E. T. Allen, of the
U. S.  National Council of Defense, who was head of the commission.  The group visited Portland, Tacoma, and Seattle in August 1917 to survey the
available supply of spruce wood.   Stops were also made at airplane construction facilities, the University of California military school of aeronautics
in Berkeley and the government flying school in San Diego.  The trip resulted in record breaking contracts for spruce lumber for airplane
construction.  One hundred million feet were purchased for the
U. S. and Italy and fifty million feet for France and Great Britain.

There was another meeting between Dourif, now a Major, and Gen. Mitchell in 1918 in France but Dourif was ordered by his government to return to
the United States to serve in the French High Commission in Washington, DC.  Dourif pleaded to be sent to the front, but this was rejected by the
French command.  He desperately wanted to become a qualified pilot and got approval to attend an American pilot training school.  He continued his
training in the new field of offensive aviation.  

When the war ended, Dourif returned to Standard Ultramarine and became a naturalized citizen of the U.S.  He was placed in charge of the plant in
1920 and was named vice-president in 1925.  He worked closely with Frick to introduce new pigment production lines and the plant was expanded
in 1921 and 1931.  The site eventually grew to 27 acres and the plant had up to 500 employees.  The company enjoyed an international reputation for
supplying over 600 different shades of pigments and dyestuffs to industrial markets.  Dourif was recognized worldwide as an expert on the
development and manufacture of industrial colorants.  Examples of his inventions include
U. S. patent 1,587,704 in 1924 for a turquoise pigment for paints; U. S. patent 2,020,539 in 1931 for a gel form of ultramarine blue which reduced
spotting on textiles; and
U.S. patent 2,067,906 in 1934 for a new flushing process that avoided heat or chemicals.

In October 1939, at the onset of World War II, Dourif's 19 year old son, Jean Henri, enlisted in the French air service.  He followed the example set by
his father in World War I.

By 1947 Dourif held the title of executive vice-president and technical director.  When Frick died in 1949, Dourif became president of the company.  
Dourif’s contribution to the industrial development of the Ohio Valley was noted in 1951 when he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Science
from Marietta College.  Well-know as a patron of the arts, Dourif helped establish the Huntington Galleries and served on the Board of Directors.  

He retired in 1964.  The company was then purchased by the Chemetron Corporation of Chicago and became known as the Holland-Suco Color

Dourif and his wife Eveleen, also a native of France, maintained homes in Huntington, in Paris at 43 Boulevard Suchet , and in La Marche, Par La
Charrite-sur-Loire, Nievre south of Paris where they had a country estate.  In 1964, Eveleen died at their country estate.  

Late in the summer of 1966, Dourif returned from France for the last time.  His health deteriorated and he died in Huntington on February 21, 1967.  
He was survived by two daughters, Mme. Paul Gilson of Paris and Mrs. John Sandifer of Greenwich, Connecticut.   Two sons, Jean Henri and Jaques
Dourif, preceded him in death.  Additional survivors included 11 grandchildren.  Four of the grandchildren, Diana, Patricia, Bradford and Christiane
Dourif lived in Huntington, children of Mrs. William C. Campbell.  Also surviving was a great-granddaughter, Dabney Lee, daughter of Patricia (Mrs.
John Penn Lee), both of Roanoke, Virginia.  The remaining grandchildren lived in Paris.

Brad Dourif became an actor in films, receiving an Academy Award nomination for his role in “One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest” in 1975.  He has
appeared in more than 50 films since then and is highly regarded as a character actor.


1) "Maj. Henry Dourif Is Dead at 85", The Huntington (WV) Advertiser, February 21, 1967, pp. 1, 4
2) Williams Haynes,
American Chemical Industry, Vol. III, p. 103 (New York:  D. Van Nostrand, 1945)
3) George S. Wallace,
Huntington through Seventy-Five Years, p. 158, (Huntington, West Virginia, 1947)
4) "Breguet 14", Wikipedia website,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breguet_14, accessed December 15, 2005
5) "Aerial Experts Coming To Coast", The Oakland (CA) Tribune, August 11, 1917
6) "Aeroplan Expert On His Way East", The Oakland (CA) Tribune, August 19, 1917
7) "Ultramarine Official's Son with French Army", Charleston Daily Mail, October 2, 1939

ColorantsHistory.Org thanks the staffs of the Cabell County Library, Local  History/Genealogy Room and Marshall University,  James E. Morrow
Library, Special Collections Department for supplying historic documents for this biography.
Henri Dourif Biography
Breguet 14 Two Seat  Airplane Used for French Artillery
Reconnaissance in World War I
Click to Enlarge
Capt. Henri Dourif on Visit to United States in 1917.
Photo:  Fort Wayne (Indiana) News, August 9, 1917
Click to Enlarge
Eveleen Dourif Was Active in Allied Relief Work While the
Dourifs Were on Assignment in Washington, D. C.
Photo:  Newark (Ohio) Daily Advocate, September 14, 1918
New York Tribune Article on French Observer Airplanes,
November 4, 1917.  Click to Enlarge
"The Major as I Knew Him" by Wm. C. Weaver