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by Victoria Gilman
June 21, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 25

Joseph A. Davis, professor emeritus of chemistry at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), died on March 4 at the age of 77.

Davis received his B.S. in chemistry in 1951 and his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry in 1955 from Indiana University. He joined the Indiana faculty as an assistant professor in 1966. At the time, Indiana and Purdue maintained separate chemistry departments. Davis was folded into the IPFW system when the two departments merged in 1967.

Davis served as the department chair from 1971 to 1974, seeing the department through a period of significant change. In 1972, he helped establish the Dental Research Institute at IPFW and became its first director. Davis retired from the university in 1995.

Davis had extensive experience with industry, having worked as a chemist at Standard Oil, RCA Electron Tube Division, and ITT Industrial Research Laboratories before coming to IPFW. He was active in the Northeastern Indiana Section of ACS, serving on its executive committee for 18 years, acting as chair in 1977 and 1994, and receiving the section’s Chemist of the Year award for 1977.

In his personal life, Davis will be remembered for his extensive collection of classical music recordings. He is survived by his wife, Anita; seven children; 11 grandchildren; and one great-grandson. He was preceded in death by one son. Joined ACS in 1952; emeritus member.

George Gorin, professor of chemistry at Oklahoma State University, died on March 22 at the age of 78.

Gorin was born in Como, Italy, but came to the U.S. in 1939 with his parents. He graduated with an A.B. degree from Brooklyn College in 1944, then matriculated to Princeton University, where he earned an M.S. in 1947 and a Ph.D. in 1949.

After graduation, Gorin took a position as a research associate at Rutgers University. In 1952, he moved to become an assistant professor at the University of Oregon. He joined the faculty at Oklahoma State University in 1955 and rose through the ranks to become a full professor in 1962.

Although trained as an organic chemist, Gorin focused his research on physical/bioorganic/analytical chemistry. He initially studied the redox behavior and exchange reactions of thiols and disulfides. Because mercapto groups are often reactive sites in enzymes, his investigations extended to enzyme systems as well. Eventually, his emphasis turned to urease and other proteins, with his later years spent examining the protective effect of thiol groups against radiation damage of living cells.

The National Institutes of Health honored Gorin’s work by granting him a Career Development Award in 1963 that spanned 10 years. In 1966, he was appointed to a National Academy of Sciences subcommittee on enzymes. In 1984, Gorin spent the summer as a faculty fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

In total, Gorin and his research team published 85 papers in peer-reviewed journals and presented at many meetings around the world.

Gorin was especially proud to be the lead speaker at the U.S.-Italy Cooperative Seminar on Radiation Sensitivity: Facts & Models, held in Rome in 1978. For ACS, Gorin served as chair of the Oklahoma Section in 1968.

Gorin is survived by his wife, Helen; a son; a daughter; and two grandchildren. Joined ACS in 1945.

Aubrey A. (Ole) Larsen, retired vice president of research and development at Mead Johnson, died in a car accident on Feb. 17 at the age of 84.

Born and raised in Illinois, Larsen attended Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, and Michigan State University before moving to Ithaca, N.Y., to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry from Cornell University. In 1946, he took a position with Sterling Drugs in Rensselaer, N.Y., where he coinvented a widely used, water-soluble X-ray contrast agent.

In 1959, Larsen moved to Evansville, Ind., to join the research and development team at Mead Johnson, working his way up to vice president of physical science. In 1969, following the acquisition of Mead Johnson by Bristol-Myers, Larsen moved to Bristol-Myers’ international division in New York City, where he served as scientific director and vice president of R&D.

Larsen returned to the Mead Johnson subsidiary in 1975 to take a position as vice president of R&D, which he held until retiring in 1982. During this time, the company developed a number of new drugs, including the antibiotic Duricef and cardiovascular drugs Encanide and Sotolol.

In addition to the American Chemical Society, Larsen was made a member of several professional organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Research Society of America, and the Chemical Society of London.

He received the Mead Johnson President’s Award in 1962 and was named Boss of the Year for 1964 by the Indiana Diamond Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association.

Larsen is survived by his wife, Helen; five children; and four grandchildren. Joined ACS in 1944; emeritus member.

Mark A. Sprecker, a chemist with International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), died on March 11 at the age of 56.

A Philadelphia native, Sprecker received his B.S. in 1969 and Ph.D. in 1973 from the University of Pennsylvania. He then did postdoctoral work at the University of Illinois.

After graduation, Sprecker joined IFF in Union Beach, N.J., where he spent his entire career. He was director of global chemical development at the time of his death. Sprecker was recognized as an expert in fragrances. He had more than 100 patents to his name and contributed to numerous products and processes for the company.

In his personal life, Sprecker was a classical music and opera lover. Joined ACS in 1970.

Benjamin T. Woodard, a research scientist with Array BioPharma, died of a heart attack on March 4. He was 36.

Born Benjamin T. Cordova in Boulder, Colo., Woodard requested at age six to carry his stepfather’s surname when his mother remarried. Woodard graduated from high school a year early and left for Baltimore to attend Johns Hopkins University, where he earned bachelor’s and doctorate degrees in organic chemistry. He then did postdoctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley.

Following graduation, Woodard took a position with Array in Boulder, where he worked in drug screening. At the time of his death, he was planning to enter business school so he could explore related venture-capital opportunities.

Woodard is survived by his wife, Laura; a son; his mother; his stepfather; and his father. Joined ACS in 1993.

Obituaries are written by Victoria Gilman. Obituary notices may be sent by e-mail to and should include detailed educational and professional history.


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