Obituaries | March 19, 2007 Issue - Vol. 85 Issue 12 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 85 Issue 12 | pp. 72-73 | Obituaries
Issue Date: March 19, 2007

Obituaries

Department: ACS News

John S. Coppage, 68, a chemical engineer, died unexpectedly on Dec. 31, 2006, from complications of a strep infection.

Originally from Minneapolis, he graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1961. Coppage began his career at Dow Chemical in production and eventually became manager of a chlorobenzol plant. After he earned an M.B.A. from Central Michigan University, his work turned to business functions, such as land transportation management.

In his community, Coppage served for many years as a councilman and airport commissioner and for one year as mayor. He volunteered and taught classes at local colleges.

Coppage is survived by his wife of 46 years, Carol; three children; and four grandchildren.

George Kavarnos, 64, a chemist with a varied career, died of cancer on Oct. 9, 2006.

He graduated with a B.S. in chemistry from Clark University, in Worcester, Mass., in 1964 and received a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Rhode Island, in Kingston, in 1968.

During his career, Kavarnos supervised a struggling clinical chemistry laboratory to help a friend who owned it. He researched photosynthesis at Columbia University and wrote a book on the topic. He also taught chemistry at the University of Rhode Island and Pennsylvania State University and did research on cancer cells at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Kavarnos was active in his church. He is survived by a sister, a nephew, and three nieces. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1965.

David Kritchevsky, 86, a pioneer in studies linking cholesterol, heart disease, and cancer, died on Nov. 20, 2006.

Kritchevsky was born in Kharkov, Ukraine. He attended the University of Chicago and earned his doctorate in organic chemistry from Northwestern University in 1949. He had postdoctoral fellowships at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, and the University of California, Berkeley.

After a few years at Lederle Laboratories, he joined the Wistar Institute, in Philadelphia, in 1957, followed by a joint appointment, which he held until his death, at the University of Pennsylvania. His research included effects of cholesterol, saturated and unsaturated fats, and fiber on human health.

When he was in Zurich, Kritchevsky wrote humorous pieces for the Paris Herald Tribune. Colleagues fondly remember scientific ditties that he sang with classic tunes, such as "If I Had a Big Grant" to the tune of "If I Were a Rich Man."

He is survived by his wife, Evelyn; three children; and six grandchildren. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1942.

J. Hodge Markgraf, 76, Ebenezer Fitch Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at Williams College, in Massachusetts, died unexpectedly on Jan. 11 while exercising on campus.

"No one loved this college more than Hodge, and no one served it with more passion and spunk," according to a statement by Williams President Morton O. Schapiro.

Born in Cincinnati, Markgraf graduated from Williams in 1952 and joined ACS in 1953. While earning a Ph.D. in chemistry at Yale University in 1957, he studied as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Munich. He then worked as a research chemist at Procter & Gamble before joining the chemistry department at Williams in 1959.

Markgraf helped introduce undergraduate research to Williams. In addition to his many years as department chair, he also served the broader college as provost, marshall, and vice president for alumni relations and development.

After officially retiring from Williams in 1998, he taught as a visiting professor. He also participated in the Dreyfus Foundation's Senior Scientist Mentor Initiatives for retired faculty who continue to involve undergraduates in research.

Markgraf served on many boards in his local community. He enjoyed classical music.

His wife of 49 years, Nancy, died in August 2006. He is survived by his two daughters and a grandson.

Robert A. Rhodes, 65, a professor at Middle Georgia College, died on Aug. 3, 2006, after an eight-year battle with chronic lymphocyte leukemia.

Born in Harrisonburg, Va., Rhodes graduated from Bridgewater College, in Virginia, with a B.A. in 1963. He received a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of Maryland in 1968.

He and his wife, Rose, served in the Teachers Abroad Program in Nigeria for several years. He was a lecturer in the chemistry department at Ahmadu Bello University. Upon his return to the U.S., Rhodes accepted a position in the chemistry department at Middle Georgia College. He taught there for 32 years, preparing students to enter the various health professions, and retired in 2002. He also conducted research during summers at Georgia State University and Oak Ridge Associated Universities, in Tennessee.

Rhodes had many interests, but he was especially known for his birding.

He is survived by his wife, three children, two grandsons, and two siblings. He joined ACS in 1965.

William A. Rogers, 79, a retired Dow executive, died on Feb. 10 after a brief illness.

Born in Karnes City, Texas, he graduated from what is now Texas A&M University, Kingsville, with a degree in chemistry. He also served in the Army.

After teaching high school chemistry, Rogers joined Dow Chemical in 1950. During his 37-year career, he was the laboratory director of several research departments; he retired as global director of R&D for Dow.

His hobbies included hunting, fishing, and playing cards with friends.

Rogers is survived by his wife, Marilyn; three children; and nine grandchildren. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1956.

Robert J. Schatz, 91, a former director of resins and plastics research at Monsanto Chemical, died on Jan. 15.

He received a B.S. in chemical engineering in 1936 from Lehigh University, a master's degree in 1938, and a doctorate in physical chemistry in 1942 from Cornell University.

Schatz spent his career working at Monsanto and managed research in various countries. His areas of expertise included phenolic and melamine resins, polystyrenes, polyethylenes, and polyvinyl chloride. He retired in 1980.

He enjoyed reading, gardening, and playing bridge. In his community, he served two terms on the board of the local Planned Parenthood Association, did fundraising, and volunteered in the English as a Second Language program for adults.

Schatz is survived by his wife, Louise; three children; and six grandchildren. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1943.

Helmut W. Schulz, 93, a chemical engineer who did work in physics, rockets, and energy generation, died on Jan. 28.

Schulz was born in Berlin, and his family moved to New York City in 1924. He received a B.S. in 1933 and an M.S. in 1934, both from Columbia University.

In 1940, Schulz started working at Union Carbide, where he lost his eyesight during a laboratory accident with caustic potash. While being treated in the hospital at Columbia, he learned about physicists at the university who had completed fission of uranium. He proposed a way to separate uranium isotopes with gas centrifuges after he left the hospital.

After he received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Columbia in 1942, Schulz returned to Union Carbide, where he wrote two papers on the possibility of initiating molecular reactions with infrared radiation.

Also in 1942, he filed for a patent on a gaseous diffusion process to enrich uranium, but due to wartime secrecy, it was granted nine years later. In a 1984 court ruling regarding royalties, he received $100,000 for the first U.S. gas centrifuge plant, built in 1977, based on his patent. He held a total of 64 patents.

In the 1960s, he helped develop new ways to produce solid rocket fuel, and he took leave from Union Carbide to oversee the Defense Department's rocket propulsion program.

Schulz retired from Union Carbide in 1969 and returned to Columbia with a National Science Foundation grant to develop clean ways to produce energy from waste.

Known as "Hap" for his patience and understanding, Schulz had undergone 35 eye surgeries by 1969. The last surgery replaced vision in his left eye. Nine months later, while dancing at a neighbor's house, he suffered a spontaneous hemorrhage and lost his sight again.

He is survived by his wife, Colette; four children; and seven grandchildren. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1944.

Sisler
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Sisler

Harry H. Sisler, 89, who was a professor at the University of Florida, Gainsville, for nearly 30 years, died on Dec. 23, 2006.

Born in southern Ohio, he graduated from Ohio State University in 1936 with B.S. degrees in chemistry and mathematics. He received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Illinois in 1939 at age 19, one of the youngest people to receive a doctorate there.

He served on the faculty of the Chicago Colleges, the University of Kansas, and Ohio State. Sisler's research group at Ohio State brought about major developments in the chemistry of high-energy nitrogen compounds, including various hydrazines of much interest in the Apollo program and other aspects of rocket propulsion, which garnered worldwide attention.

In 1956, he moved to Florida, where he expanded his research program on high-energy rocket fuels and the chemistry of chloramine and hydrazine. He also held positions as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, executive vice president, and dean of the graduate school. He retired in 1985.

Sisler was active in his church community. He is survived by his wife, Hannelore Wass; four children; one stepson; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1939.

James R. Stephens, 81, an organic chemist and inventor, died on Feb. 2.

Stephens was a World War II Navy veteran. He earned a B.S. from St. Vincent College, in Latrobe, Pa.; an M.S. from the University of Pittsburgh; and, in 1953, a Ph.D. from Northwestern University.

Stephens retired from Amoco Chemicals (now BP) after more than 30 years of service, 47 patents, and numerous professional awards. Several of his high-temperature coatings and materials are still used in automobiles and jets.

He was an accomplished stock and bond investor, and he also liked to garden and collect coins, stamps, and fossils.

Stephens is survived by his wife of 52 years, Beatrice; four children; 10 grandchildren; and a sister. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1947.

Swiatoslaw (Jerry) Trofimenko, 75, an inorganic chemist at the University of Delaware and DuPont, died on Feb. 26.

Born in Lviv, the capital of Western Ukraine, Trofimenko came to the U.S. on a scholarship to Wesleyan University. After receiving his Ph.D. from Northwestern University and completing postdoctoral studies at Columbia University, he joined the Central Research Department at DuPont in 1959.

While at DuPont, he discovered and developed the polypyrazolylborate ligands, which he named scorpionates. In the late 1970s, he was assigned to Switzerland and then to Poland as the manager of the DuPont office; he returned to the U.S. in 1980.

After his retirement in 1996, Trofimenko joined the University of Delaware as an honorary scholar. Throughout his career, he published more than 150 scientific articles and was granted 36 patents. The sequel to his book on scorpionates, to be published in 2007, is being prepared by Claudio Pettinari of Camerino, Italy.

Colleagues say Trofimenko's passion for chemistry was constant and inspiring. He had a habit of providing visitors to the university with little vials from his plethora of ligands. He was also a prize-winning chess player, accomplished pianist, exhibited artist, avid fisherman, and soccer player, as well as fluent in seven languages.

Trofimenko leaves his wife, Martha; a daughter; and two grandchildren. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1956.

Shang Fa Yang, 74, a plant scientist and biochemist, died on Feb. 12 from pneumonia.

Born in Taiwan, he earned a B.S. in 1956 and an M.S. in 1958 in agricultural chemistry from National Taiwan University. He received a Ph.D. in plant biochemistry from Utah State University in 1962.

Following postdoctoral work at the University of California, Davis; New York Medical Center; and UC San Diego, Yang began his independent research career at UC Davis in 1966. He remained there until 1994, whereupon he became a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (1994-97). He also served as vice president of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan (1996-99).

Much of his research focused on the biosynthesis of ethylene in plants. His research group's identification of 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid as an intermediate in ethylene biosynthesis paved the way for genetic strategies to improve the postharvest life of flowers, fruits, and other produce.

His pioneering study of ethylene biosynthesis associated with the ripening mechanism of fruits has had enormous impact on the development of agricultural biotechnology, according to colleagues.

Yang is survived by his wife, Eleanor, and two sons.

 

Obituaries are written by Rachel Petkewich. Obituary notices may be sent to r_petkewich@acs.org and should include detailed educational and professional history.

 
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