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In Memoriam: Irving Victor, 90, Vic Manufacturing Co.

Spent 50-plus years in drycleaning technology development

MINNEAPOLIS — Irving Victor, past vice president of Vic Manufacturing Co., died here Oct. 4 at the age of 90.

Victor began his career in the drycleaning industry making deliveries for the family-owned drycleaning operation here in Minneapolis. In the late 1930s, with brother Oscar and father Charles, he founded and operated Vic Manufacturing Co. in the garage behind their home. Victor had to leave the business for several years to serve in World War II.

The early Vic machines were converted Maytag laundry machines designed to operate with carbon tetrachloride. As the industry progressed through the decades, Victor directed the engineering department of Vic, producing a wide range of equipment for use with perc and Stoddard solvents. At the height of production, Vic employed more than 200 workers in a 250,000-square-foot factory.

Victor earned many patents while directing technical development at Vic, one of which was for the equipment to process with Valclene solvent. The technology to produce the Valclene machine was licensed to companies in Europe, Asia and the United States. It was adept at processing leather and fragile garments and was chosen by the Smithsonian Institute to process the astronauts’ space suits after returning from the moon.

In the years before refrigeration became common on drycleaning equipment, Victor spearheaded the design and eventually patented the Mileage Booster. The activated carbon filtration system helped cleaners with perc machines reclaim the solvent vapors rather than release them into the atmosphere. This technology was licensed to Hoyt Corp., which marketed it to dry cleaners as the Sniffer. In the early 1970s, Victor created a division within Vic to engineer and produce large-scale air pollution control equipment.

Vic Manufacturing Co. was sold to investors in 1987, and Victor retired after more than 50 years in the drycleaning industry. In retirement, he escaped many Minnesota winters to Scottsdale, Ariz., where he and his wife of 65-plus years, Teresa, enjoyed the warm weather and visits from family and friends.

Victor enjoyed solving problems using his self-taught engineering skills and was in pursuit of solar energy solutions up until his death, his family says.

Surviving are his wife, Teresa; children, Randy, Nancy, Barry and Jeff; and six grandchildren.

Memorials are preferred to Beth El Synagogue Congregational Nurse Fund, or to a children’s charity of the donor's choice.

In Memoriam

(Photo: © iStockphoto/Lighthousebay)

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