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by Rachel Petkewich
March 27, 2006 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 84, Issue 13

Chester M. Alter, 99, University of Denver chancellor emeritus, died on March 6 of natural causes.

Born on a farm in Rush County, Ind., Alter earned a B.S. from Ball State University in 1927, an M.S. degree from the University of Indiana in 1928, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University in 1936. While a graduate student at the University of Indiana, he pursued research in electrochemistry as one of the earliest investigators of chromium electroplating. At Harvard, he worked on the accurate determination of the atomic weights of elements in the periodic table. His measurements of nitrogen, potassium, indium, and isotopes of lead were published in 1934 and stood as the international standard for more than three decades.

As an instructor at Boston University, Alter also worked on the Manhattan Project between 1942 and 1945. He earned a bronze medal and certificate of merit from the War Department for his research and served as a consultant to the Research & Development Board for the Department of Defense. He became dean of the university's graduate college in 1944.

Alter served the University of Denver as its 12th chancellor from 1953 to 1967. Among his numerous accomplishments, Alter focused on strengthening the academic "peaks of excellence," including sciences and engineering. He retired in 1967 but continued his involvement and kept an office on campus until 2000.

He was also active in the Denver community, serving as a trustee for the Gates Foundation, the Central City Opera Association, and the YMCA. In fact, he sat on the board of trustees or board of directors of almost every educational institution along Colorado's Front Range. In honor of Alter's 80th birthday, March 21, 1986, was designated Chester M. Alter Day in Colorado by executive order of then-governor Richard Lamm.

Alter was preceded in death by his wife, Arvilla, and a daughter who died in infancy. He is survived by a son, three grandchildren, and a number of great-grandchildren. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1930.

Paul F. Fryer, 61, an industrial chemist, died on Feb. 8. He was diagnosed with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy in 2000.

Born in New York City, he earned a B.S. in chemistry from Manhattan College and an M.S. in chemistry from the University of Missouri.

In 1970, Fryer began his career with Union Carbide. He also served as a chemist and laboratory manager for Chesebrough Ponds, Engelhard, Unimin, and GEO Specialty Chemicals, from which he retired in 2000.

An avid yachtsman, he was a member of the Keyport Yacht Club in Keyport, N.J., where he won many championships and appeared on the cover of Mainsheet magazine. He joined the Keowee Sailing Club when he and his wife, Iris, moved to Lake Keowee in South Carolina in 1986. They also traveled extensively.

Fryer spent hours with his two grandchildren sharing his American Flyer train collection, which he started as a child. He is also survived by his wife and two children. He joined ACS in 1978.

Mayer B. Goren, 84, an organic chemist and microbiologist known for pioneering work on mycobacterial lipids and their role in virulence, died on Oct. 9, 2005.

He was born in Tomaszów, Poland. His father, a tailor, immigrated to the U.S. in 1921. Goren and his mother joined his father in Dallas six years later. Goren attended Baylor University on a full music scholarship, and he earned a B.A. in 1942 and an M.A. in 1943 in organic chemistry from Rice University. He completed a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Harvard University in 1949.

Goren worked for Kerr McGee Oil Industries as chief research chemist. In his last of 12 years there, his interest turned to microbiology.

He spent almost 30 years as a senior research scientist in the department of molecular and cellular biology at the National Jewish Center for Immunology & Respiratory Medicine in Denver and as a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Goren retired in 1992.

Among his service to the scientific community, he served on the editorial board of Infection & Immunity and was a consultant to the World Health Organization.

Colleagues and friends marveled at the scope of Goren's interests. He was an accomplished violinist and used his chemistry knowledge to replicate the varnish believed to contribute to the unique sound of Stradivarius violins. He traveled to Córdoba, Spain, to audit a flamenco guitar course. To liven up his scientific papers, he would add quotes from Shakespeare or the Talmud. He fished for trout in the Rocky Mountain lakes.

Goren was preceded in death by one daughter and is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ethel, and their younger daughter. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1944.

Edward G. Jefferson, 84, chairman and chief executive officer of DuPont from 1981 to 1986, died on Feb. 9.

He was born in London and served in the British Royal Artillery during World War II, participating in the Normandy invasion in 1944. He earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in chemistry from King's College, University of London.

In 1951, Jefferson worked at DuPont's Belle Works near Charleston, W.Va. He became a U.S. citizen six years later. In 1960, he transferred to Wilmington, Del., and by 1978, he coordinated all research for the company. He became CEO two years later. In 1981, he led the acquisition of Conoco. He is also remembered for identifying biotechnology as important to the company's future.

Jefferson was a director at AT&T and at the Chemical Banking Corp. and its subsidiary, Chemical Bank. He also served on the boards of Diamond State Telephone and Seagram. He retired in 1986.

He helped institutions of higher education in various ways, including sitting on advisory boards and lecturing. The Jefferson family's philanthropic service to the University of Delaware has included the donation of a pipe organ and the establishment of a music scholarship. A chair was established in Jefferson's name at the university's Biotechnology Institute. He also served as a member of the state's Business Committee for the Arts and the Delaware Council for the Arts and as a president and trustee emeritus of the Delaware Art Museum.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Naomi; two sons; and three grandchildren. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1955.

Theodore J. Kneip, 79, professor of environmental medicine, died on Feb. 15.

Born in Minnesota, he earned his doctoral degree in analytical chemistry at the University of Illinois. He also served in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

From 1954 to 1965, Kneip was a research chemist, group leader, and analytical manager for the uranium division of Mallinckrodt Chemical Works in St. Louis. From 1969 through 1991, he was a professor at New York University in the Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine in Sterling Forest, N.Y. His teaching and research centered on health consequences of environmental exposure to toxic and heavy metals. In retirement, he sailed and skied.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara; six children; and six grandchildren.

Richard F. Neblett, 80, a career chemist with ExxonMobil, died on Jan. 16.

He was born and raised in Plainfield, N.J. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army in Italy. He received his bachelor's degree in liberal arts and chemistry in 1949, master's in chemistry in 1951, and doctorate in organic chemistry in 1953, all from the University of Cincinnati.

Neblett spent 35 years with Esso (now ExxonMobil). He was first a research chemist in the Linden facility and later the head of contributions in the New York City office.

After retiring in 1987, he worked for the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering in New York City. He served on several advisory boards, including the planning of Liberty Science Center and the United Way of Greater Union County. He also enjoyed playing golf and poker, bowling, gardening, and travel. His favorite destination was St. Maarten.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara, and is survived by his daughter and a brother. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1949.

Donald D. Perry, 83, an industrial chemist, died of pneumonia on Feb. 23.

He was a first lieutenant with the U.S. Army Air Corps 10th Weather Squadron during World War II. All of his degrees were earned at Harvard University: a bachelor's in chemistry in 1943, a master's degree in 1948, and a doctorate in 1951.

In the 1950s and '60s, Perry worked on liquid propellants with Reaction Motors and held research positions in New Jersey at Riegel Paper of Milford; Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick; Polychrome in Clark; and Elastimold, a division of Amerace in Hackettstown. His later work included development of new industrial resins, plastics, and rubber compounds. He held more than 10 patents for his work.

Perry was a dean in his church and sang in the choir. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Helen; three sons; and a grandchild. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1948.


Paul V. Roberts, 67, a pioneer in wastewater reclamation, died on Feb. 12 of leukemia.

Born in Washington, D.C., he grew up in Pennsylvania. In 1960, he earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University and, in 1966, a doctorate in chemical engineering from Cornell University.

He spent time as a visiting professor in Chile, returned to Cornell briefly, and took an engineering job with Chevron Research In 1968, he became a research engineer at Stanford Research Institute in California. But an interest in nature and increasing concern about industrial pollution led him to environmental engineering. While working at SRI, he finished a master's degree in environmental engineering at the university.

In 1971, Roberts became a research scientist and group leader in process engineering with the Swiss Federal Institute of Water Supply & Pollution Control (EAWAG). Two years later, he was promoted to head of EAWAG's engineering department and also became a lecturer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich. He returned to California in 1976 as a research professor of environmental engineering at Stanford University. He was appointed to the Peck Professorship in 1989 and became emeritus in 2000.

Colleagues say Roberts "was drawn to environmental engineering both philosophically and intellectually" and served as a role model to many students and colleagues. In 1980, he organized the Borden Field experiment in Canada, widely recognized as the most definitive study of fate and movement of hazardous chemicals in groundwater. He also conducted some of the first studies that used unique biological processes to destroy hazardous chlorinated compounds in contaminated drinking water.

A member of the Swiss Academy of Sciences, he was also elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1997. Roberts is survived by his wife, Inge; three children, and nine grandchildren. He joined ACS in 1972.

Richard D. Sacks, 63, a professor at the University of Michigan, died on Feb. 11 after a courageous battle with cancer.

Born in Chicago, he earned a B.S. in chemistry in 1965 from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. In 1969, he earned a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Sacks joined the faculty at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, that same year. During his career, he was internationally recognized for his pioneering work on analytical instrumentation. His early studies focused on novel atomic emission spectroscopic methods. In the mid-1980s, Sacks's research shifted toward the study of high-speed gas chromatographic separations. Along with his coworkers, he held seven patents. He had advised more than 40 doctoral students.

In addition to his many scientific achievements, Sacks had a deep interest in travel, art, music, and cooking.

Sacks is survived by his wife, Kristine, and his daughter. He joined ACS in 1998.

Herbert D. Warren, 73, chemistry professor emeritus of Western Michigan University, died Feb. 10 from congestive heart failure.

Born in Houston, he earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1954 from Rice University, a master's degree in 1959 from the University of Idaho, and a doctoral degree in 1966 from Oregon State University.


After serving two years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, Warren spent from 1956 to 1958 working for General Electric in Hanford, Wash. For more than 30 years as a faculty member at Western Michigan University, he taught and conducted research in analytical chemistry and the history of chemistry. He retired in 1996.

Warren was also an avid genealogist and conducted numerous workshops in his community over the years. He is survived by his wife, Sharon, and his son.

Norman J. Wells, 56, associate professor of chemistry at Baldwin-Wallace College, died on Jan. 7 of pancreatic cancer.

He particularly enjoyed doing research with students. In 2002, following the death of his mother, Wells used his inheritance to establish the McIntyre Summer Research Fellowship at Baldwin-Wallace to honor her memory and enable two or three students to pursue research projects each year.

A graduate of Purdue University, Wells earned his master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and doctorate from Indiana University. Before joining the Baldwin-Wallace faculty in 1992, he also taught at St. Lawrence University; Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis; Wheaton College; and Colgate University.

He is survived by his brother, nephew, and six cousins. He joined ACS in 1982.


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