Issue Date: April 12, 2004
Paul I. Abell, emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Rhode Island, died on Jan. 12 at the age of 80.
Born in Pelham, Mass., Abell served in the Army Signal Corps in both Europe and Japan during World War II. He later graduated from the University of New Hampshire and went on to earn a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin.
Abell's research involved the chemistry of free radicals, the chemical analysis of the Apollo 11 moon rocks, and studies of paleoclimatology. For 17 summers, he worked in East Africa with the Leakey family of anthropologists/paleontologists searching for fossil remains of early man. In 1978, Abell discovered the famous hominid footprints at Laetoli, in Tanzania. Dated at approximately 3.8 million years old, the prints constitute the oldest known evidence of bipedalism.
Working in East Africa led Abell to focus his research on geochemistry and its role in determining climate change. After retiring, he taught a popular seminar on evolution to honors students at the University of Rhode Island and continued to be active in collaborative research until shortly before his death.
In addition to his scientific interests, Abell was an accomplished violinist, painter, book collector, gardener, and cabinetmaker. He built his own home--a geodesic dome--in Kingston, R.I., and his summer home in Nova Scotia.
Abell is survived by three daughters.
Joseph H. Brant, former scientific director of Colgate-Palmolive, died on Dec. 24, 2003, at the age of 95.
A native of Lucasville, Ohio, Brant graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1930 and earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Cornell University in 1935. After graduation, he took a position with the Tennessee Eastman Co. in Kingsport, Tenn., where he worked on the production of cellulose acetate films and fibers. During this time, he became acting superintendent of research for the firm.
In 1944, Brant left Eastman to become director of research at the Institute of Textile Technology in Charlottesville, Va. During this period, he was also involved with the Office of the U.S. Quartermaster in the development of textiles suitable for wartime use. From 1947 to 1950, Brant served as director of research for Bates Manufacturing Co., in Lewiston, Maine.
In 1950, Brant joined the Toni Division of Gillette in Chicago as director of research. He remained with Gillette until 1958, when he took a position with Colgate-Palmolive in New Jersey. During his 12 years with Colgate-Palmolive, Brant helped develop a number of new personal care products and also participated in the design and building of a new corporate research center in Piscataway, N.J.
Brant left Colgate-Palmolive in 1970 to accept a position as professor of textile science at Georgia Institute of Technology. He retired to North Carolina in 1972, where he remained active in personal interests such as photography, horticulture, and civic affairs.
Brant was preceded in death by his wife, Mary. He is survived by three daughters, a son, 10 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Joined ACS in 1937; emeritus member.
Lemuel C. Curlin, former technical vice president of Perrigo Co., died on Jan. 28 at the age of 90.
Born in Waxahachie, Texas, Curlin graduated from Trinity University, San Antonio, with a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1934. He went on to earn a master's degree in organic chemistry in 1935 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1940 from the University of Chicago.
From 1940 to 1942, Curlin worked at Armour Pharmaceutical Laboratories in Chicago, where he developed and directed plasma protein manufacturing for military use. He then joined Perrigo in Allegan, Mich., where he helped to establish manufacturing of products such as pharmaceuticals and toothpaste. Simultaneously, Curlin founded a fine organic chemicals plant, which was later sold to Ott Chemical.
In addition to his professional contributions, Curlin was active in his community, sitting on the Allegan city council and serving as the city's vice mayor. After retiring in 1978, he moved to Naples, Fla., where he served on the board of directors at a local golf club.
Curlin is survived by his wife, Carol; three sons; and four grandchildren. Joined ACS in 1940; emeritus member.
Thomas W. Davis, emeritus professor of chemistry at New York University, died on Jan. 6 at the age of 98.
Davis was born in Upper Nyack, N.Y., and earned a B.S., an M.S., and a Ph.D. in chemistry at NYU.
In 1929, Davis began a 44-year career on the faculty at NYU. His research mainly dealt with reaction mechanisms in gases and aqueous solutions. Many of his projects specifically focused on the role of free radicals in reactions, as well as the effects of temperature and additives such as cations.
During his career, Davis contributed to research projects at Oak Ridge, Brookhaven, and Argonne National Laboratories, and he worked at various times as a research chemist for the Manhattan Project hosted at the University of Chicago.
Outside his work, Davis harbored an abiding love for outdoor activities such as gardening and for railroad history. After retirement, he and his wife moved to North Carolina, where they farmed pine trees and vegetables. The couple later moved to a house in Burnsville, N.C., when the farm became more than they could maintain.
Davis is survived by his wife, Ruth; two sons; a stepson; seven grandchildren; and two step great-grandchildren. Joined ACS in 1928; emeritus member.
Paul W. Gilles, emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Kansas, died on Feb. 12 at the age of 83.
Born in Kansas City, Kan., Gilles received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Kansas in 1943. He then attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1947. During this time, he worked on the Manhattan Project developing containers that could hold molten plutonium.
Following graduation, Gilles returned to his home state to join the faculty at the University of Kansas, where he enjoyed a 43-year career. There he developed a reputation as a leader in the field of high-temperature chemistry.
Outside of his academic life, Gilles was known for his practical skills, such as building repair. He is survived by his wife, Helen; a son; two daughters; and nine grandchildren. Joined ACS in 1944; emeritus member.
Eugene W. Jones Sr., former vice president of Olympic Products Co., died on Jan. 14 at the age of 77.
Born in Stokesdale, N.C., Jones earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at the University of North Carolina. During World War II, he served in the Fleet Marine Group of the U.S. Navy, where he worked as a pharmacist's mate and eventually became a petty officer, third class.
After leaving military service, Jones started a career in industry by joining Hercules Powder Co. in Radford, Va. In 1953, he moved back to North Carolina to take a position as a textile laboratory chemist with Cone Mills. He was later transferred to the firm's urethane foam division, where he designed and built the world's first computer-driven, climate-controlled foam production facility.
Family and friends will remember Jones as an accomplished winemaker and woodworker, as well as an avid sports fan. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; two children; and three grandchildren. Joined ACS in 1953; emeritus member.
Jacob Kleinberg, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Kansas, died on Jan. 12 at the age of 89.
A native of Passaic, N.J., Kleinberg lost his father at the age of three. He put himself through college by working part-time. Although initially enrolled at the City College of New York, he transferred to Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Va., where he earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry. He went on to earn a master's degree and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Illinois.
Following a teaching position at the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy in Chicago, Kleinberg joined the faculty at the University of Kansas in 1946. His research focused on unfamiliar oxidation states of various elements and on reactions in nonaqueous solvents. Kleinberg also served as chairman of the department from 1963 to 1970. He retired in 1984, but continued serving as an emeritus professor.
In addition to his work at the university, Kleinberg was a consultant at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a resident lecturer for the National Science Foundation's summer institutes for high school chemistry teachers.
Kleinberg was preceded in death by his wife, Jane. He is survived by two daughters. Joined ACS in 1939; emeritus member.
Hubert J. Liehe, a research chemist retired from Standard Oil, died on Jan. 8 at the age of 96.
Liehe graduated in 1928 from Chadron State College, in Nebraska, and went on to earn a master's in chemistry at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 1932. During this time, he also taught math and science at Chadron High School.
In 1933, Liehe began graduate work at the University of Nebraska, but he was forced to quit after a year because of financial pressures during the Great Depression. He instead took a job teaching math and science at Nebraska Central College.
Liehe joined the analytical labs of Standard Oil (now part of BP America) in 1937, and was transferred three years later to a research and development position in the firm's heavy oils area, lubricant division. During World War II, he received numerous patents for work on low-temperature lubricating greases, an essential material for the war effort in cold climates.
Liehe became the firm's group leader of R&D for lubricating greases in 1952. Except for three years spent as a patent adviser, he held this position until his retirement in 1972. In his personal life, Liehe enjoyed gem and mineral collecting and was a participant for more than 20 years in his local Meals on Wheels program.
Liehe is survived by four children, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. Joined ACS in 1940; emeritus member.
Alex F. Perge, a chemical engineer retired from the Department of Energy, died on Feb. 5 at the age of 80.
Perge was born in Akron, Ohio, and attended Case Western University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1944. During World War II, he served in the Army conducting research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
In 1946, Perge took a position with General Electric's atomic power laboratory in Schenectady, N.Y., conducting fuel-element research. He joined the Atomic Energy Commission in 1952, moving within a year from Wilmington, Del., to Aiken, S.C., to participate in the Savannah River spent-fuel-element recovery plant project.
Perge moved to the commission's headquarters in Washington, D.C., in 1955, staying through the organization's transition into DOE. During this time, Perge was one of the first Americans allowed to observe the then-Soviet Union's nuclear waste management programs in 1964. He also helped develop international waste management and technology exchanges between the U.S. and Europe.
After retiring from DOE in 1985, Perge and his wife spent their spare time rehabilitating a 250-year-old farmhouse in Vermont. Perge is survived by his wife, Celia, and a daughter. Joined ACS in 1952; emeritus member.
Roscoe A. Pike, a research scientist at United Technologies Research Center, died on Jan. 6 at the age of 78.
A native of Calais, Maine, Pike served in the Army Signal Corps during World War II. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry from the University of New Hampshire and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Prior to working at United Technologies, Pike held positions in the silicones division of Union Carbide in Tonawanda, N.Y., and subsequently at Norton Co. in Worcester, Mass. His work resulted in numerous patents and included research for NASA and the Department of Defense. Pike was a noted expert on adhesion technology and served as a consultant to a number of companies after his retirement from United Technologies.
Pike is survived by his wife, Mary; five children; and seven grandchildren. Joined ACS in 1950; emeritus member.
John K. Ruff, emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Georgia, died on Jan. 6 at the age of 74.
Born in New York City, Ruff earned a B.S. at Haverford College, in Pennsylvania. He then received a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
After spending several years on the research staff at a Rohm and Haas laboratory in Huntsville, Ala., Ruff joined the chemistry department at the University of Georgia in 1968. There he made many important contributions to aluminum hydride chemistry and metal carbonyl chemistry.
Ruff also discovered the use of the bis(triphenylphosphin)iminium cation as a counterion for stable salts of large anions. This method allowed for the characterization of a number of important metal carbonyl anions as stable isolable salts.
Ruff retired from the university in 1995 but continued to serve as an emeritus faculty member. In his personal life, he was a longtime member of the Atlanta Yacht Club.
Ruff is survived by his wife, Flo; three sons; three stepchildren; and 10 grandchildren.
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