Issue Date: April 23, 2012
William E. Garwood
William E. Garwood, 92, a retired ExxonMobil research chemist whose discoveries led to the commercialization of Mobil 1 synthetic motor oil, died on Nov. 14, 2011.
Born in Kirkwood, N.J., Garwood grew up on a dairy farm and attended a one-room schoolhouse in Salem County, N.J. After receiving a B.A. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1942, he joined Socony-Vacuum Oil in Paulsboro, N.J., as an organic chemist.
Drafted into the Navy in 1944, he served as a radioman in the Philippines. After World War II, Garwood resumed his career at Socony while also pursuing graduate studies in chemistry at Temple University in Philadelphia from 1947 to 1954.
Socony-Vacuum later became Socony Mobil Oil and then Mobil, from which Garwood retired in 1987. Subsequently, he worked as a consultant for Mobil Technology until 1999 and for ExxonMobil from 2000 to 2002.
Garwood’s pioneering research in organic catalytic chemistry was the basis for the development of many synthetic lubricants. He held more than 100 patents related to catalytic processes and lubricants. In retirement, he researched the efficacy of zeolites as a potential means of preventing cancer.
He is credited with more than 30 journal publications and was coauthor of the textbook “Shape Selective Catalysis in Industrial Applications,” published in 1989. Garwood was an emeritus member of ACS, which he joined in 1943. He was also a member of the Philadelphia Catalysis Club.
He was a member of Haddonfield United Methodist Church for more than 60 years. He enjoyed building harpsichords and playing the violin. In 2006, he published “Compromise Road,” a book about rural life in southern New Jersey during the 1930s.
Garwood is survived by his wife of 65 years, Betty; son, John; daughter Deborah; and a grandson. His daughter Christine predeceased him.
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