Obituaries | May 14, 2007 Issue - Vol. 85 Issue 20 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 85 Issue 20 | pp. 51-53 | Obituaries
Issue Date: May 14, 2007


Department: ACS News

John R. Brown Jr., 95, a research scientist, corporate director, and public servant, died on April 3 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Born in Mansfield, Ohio, Brown received a bachelor's degree in 1933 and a master's degree in 1935, both from Oberlin College. In 1939, he received a doctorate in chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

At Colgate-Palmolive in New York City, he was vice president for R&D and then on the board of directors from 1957 to 1973. In the early 1960s, he oversaw the design and construction of Colgate's research center in New Brunswick, N.J., and led a staff of 500.

Prior to his work at Colgate, Brown was vice president for R&D and director at Spencer Chemical, vice president for research at Lambert Pharmacal, technical director at Prophylactic Brush, and assistant director of research at Esso Labs, Standard Oil Development. He also served as chairman of the Council of State Colleges of New Jersey, on the New Jersey Board of Higher Education, and as a trustee of Kean College.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth; three children, Joanne B. Travis, John E. Brown, and Marcy Brown; and three grandchildren. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1937.

Victor C. Brum, 83, a scientist who spent his career working in cancer research for the Veterans Administration (VA), died unexpectedly on March 4.

Brum served in the Navy aboard the U.S.S. Massachusetts and the U.S.S. Casablanca during World War II. He was a gunner and then a pharmacist mate second-class. His travels in the Navy took him to Bora Bora and the coast of Africa.

Brum received a B.S. degree in 1947 from Dartmouth College and continued his education at George Washington University, where he earned a master's degree in 1953. He received a Ph.D. in animal nutrition from the University of Maine in 1965.

His career with the VA began in 1953 at hospitals in Albany, N.Y., and Baltimore. He was chief of cancer research for 20 years at the VA hospital in Togus, Maine. Afterward, Brum worked for 10 years for Maine's Occupational Safety & Health Administration. He was also a member of the Cobbosseecontee Yacht Club and a steward for the New England Wild Flower Society.

He is survived by his sister, Mary P. Bluemel; three children, Chris A. Brum, Lynn-Marie Kikutis, and Gail A. Brum; and three grandchildren.

Brum joined ACS in 1956 and was an emeritus member.

J. Allan Campbell, 81, a retired Upjohn research chemist, died on March 10.

Raised in Providence, Utah, Campbell earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at Utah State University in 1947 and a master's degree at Northwestern University in 1949. He worked with Upjohn in Kalamazoo, Mich., for 35 years as a research chemist. While there, he was the inventor or coinventor of 75 agents or processes covered by U.S. patents, many of which were used to create medicines for people and animals. He received the Upjohn Award in 1970.

He was also an expert woodworker. In his basement shop, he built toys for his grandchildren, handy household items, and furniture.

He is survived by his wife, Beth Loosle Campbell; six children, Becky C. Olson, Jay A. Campbell, Melanie C. Tew, Kent L. Campbell, Dan K. Campbell, and Sue C. Clark; 21 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. He joined ACS in 1948 and was an emeritus member.

Alsoph H. Corwin, 99, a retired Johns Hopkins University chemistry professor and department chairman, died of congestive heart failure on April 20.

A native of Marietta, Ohio, Corwin was a 1928 graduate of Marietta College. He went on to earn a doctorate in chemistry under James Bryant Conant at Harvard University in 1932. He started teaching at Johns Hopkins University that same year, continuing until his retirement in 1973.

In 1938, he married Irene M. Davis, the university's assistant registrar. The Corwins drove to their jobs in their 1930s Essex Terraplane sedan before World War II. During the war, they commuted from their Baltimore home on a tandem bicycle to save on gasoline consumption.

During his career, which spanned more than four decades, Corwin developed treatments for lead, mercury, and other heavy-metal poisoning. He served as an investigator for the National Defense Research Committee, as consultant to the Army Chemical Corps, and as an investigator for the Office of Naval Research and the National Aeronautics & Space Administration.

He made significant contributions in several branches of chemistry, with research leading to a clearer understanding of photosynthesis and the chemistry of chlorophyll and hemoglobin. He developed a chemical method for restoring highly corroded copper antiquities, a process that helped decipher the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls.

He received the Maryland Chemist Award of the ACS Maryland Section in 1964 and the 1974 Jonathan Forman gold medal from the Society of Clinical Ecology, now the American Academy of Environmental Medicine. In 1989, his former students gathered to honor him and established the Alsoph H. Corwin Chair in Chemistry at the Johns Hopkins School of Arts & Sciences.

He is survived by a niece and great-nephew. His wife died in 1994. An ACS emeritus member, he joined in 1930.

Edgar W. Dreyman, 84, a chemical engineer who was a specialist on corrosion control, died on April 2, following a long illness.

Dreyman was born in Tallinn, Estonia, and moved to the U.S. when he was six. He received a B.S. degree from Syracuse University and a master's degree in engineering from New York University. Dreyman was the founder and chief executive officer of PCA Engineering. He worked as a consultant for many Fortune 500 companies all over the world and frequently served as an expert witness in the corrosion field. He traveled worldwide, visiting every continent, including Antarctica. He lived for many years in New Jersey until he and his wife moved to Florida 10 years ago.

Bird-watching brought him great joy, and in recent years, Dreyman became involved at the Ahhochee Hill Sanctuary, part of the Florida Audubon Society, to which he donated his extensive ornithological library.

Survivors include his wife, Lee; two children, E. Wayne Dreyman and Priscilla J. Dreyman; two stepchildren; and eight grandchildren. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1946.

John Gee, 62, who devoted his career to curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, died of brain cancer in Canberra, Australia, on Jan. 29.

Having graduated from the University of Tasmania with a degree in science, Gee received a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University in 1967. He completed a doctorate in inorganic chemistry at Oxford. He joined Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade in 1971 and served in Cairo, Moscow, New Delhi, and Bangkok. In Moscow, he fostered a deep love of Russian literature and met his wife, Liv Aasgaard, a native of Norway.

Gee played a pivotal role in the 12-year negotiations that resulted in the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention. The convention was the first multilateral disarmament accord to eliminate a category of weapons. It bans the development, production, and use of chemical weapons. Its verification regime, which is stringent, owes much to Gee's influence.

From 1993 to 1997, Gee was director of the verification division of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). This provisional technical secretariat drew up the procedures necessary to verify compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, including the recruitment and training of 200 new weapons inspectors. From 1997 to 2003, he served as deputy director-general of OPCW, the body responsible for implementing the convention.

Gee's strong affinity for Russian language, literature, and music stayed with him throughout his life. He is survived by his wife and their three children, Rebecca, Nicholas, and Cristina.

James O. (Pete) Harris, 87, a retired organic chemist, died on April 19 of complications from Alzheimer's disease.

Born in Pinehurst, Ga., Harris earned a B.S. degree in chemistry from Carson-Newman College, in Jefferson City, Tenn., and went on to receive a master's and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Tennessee. He joined Monsanto in 1943 as a research chemist in Anniston, Ala. Following a four-year leave for his doctoral education, Harris rejoined Monsanto in 1950 as a research chemist. He was promoted to group leader and research section leader in Nitro, W.Va.

In 1962, he was promoted to manager of commercial development in the Rubber Chemicals Division, Akron, Ohio. Harris was a prolific inventor who coauthored more than 40 patents. In 1974, he took early retirement from Monsanto and moved to Orangeburg, S.C., where he joined the faculty of Claflin College. In his second career, Harris taught chemistry for nearly 20 years while conducting research with undergraduates and developing programs to improve students' writing and mathematical skills.

In 1994, he retired from Claflin and enjoyed life on a 28-acre farm. Harris is survived by his wife of 63 years, Louise; two sons, Philip and Joel (both chemists); and three grandchildren. An emeritus member, Harris joined ACS in 1952.

Donald E. Jones, 72, a chemist who was very active in ACS, died suddenly on April 18 at his home in Great Cacapon, W.Va.

A native of Indiana, Jones received a B.A. degree in chemistry from Manchester College, North Manchester, Ind., in 1957, and a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Purdue University in 1962. He then taught at Wabash College and, in 1963, joined the faculty of Western Maryland College (now known as McDaniel College), where he worked for 36 years.

Jones was the founder and first president of the Middle Atlantic Association of Liberal Arts Chemistry Teachers. Throughout his career, he was a consultant in chemistry education. In 1992, he was part of a delegation that introduced a new inquiry-based chemistry curriculum to 120 teachers in the former Soviet Union. His work with the National Science Foundation involved managing grants for the professional development of teachers, organizing peer review panels, and making funding recommendations.

A 50-year member of ACS, Jones was a 31-year Maryland Section councilor and was an associate of the Committee on Constitution & Bylaws. Among many other offices, he served as a member of the Committee on Budget & Finance (1997-2005), as chair of the Society Committee on Education (1998-2000), and as a member of the Committee on Committees (1991-96). He also served the Division of Chemical Education as chair (1993) and received the division's Outstanding Service Award in 2006.

He is survived by his wife, Helen Herlocker; two sisters; three children, Andrea J. Hall, Denise J. Cranmer, and Kirk Jones; two stepchildren, Caryn H. Meade and Daniel Herlocker; and nine grandchildren. He joined ACS in 1957.

Ralph T. Overman, 87, associate professor emeritus at St. Louis University School of Medicine, died on Feb. 19, in Dublin, Ohio.

He received an A.B. degree in 1939 and a master's in 1940, both in chemistry from Pittsburg State University, in Kansas. In 1943, he received a Ph.D. in physical chemistry and physics from Louisiana State University.

From 1948 to 1965, Overman served as senior research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and was chairman of the special training division of Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies (now Oak Ridge Associated Universities). He also served with the Veterans Administration.

Overman was a lecturer on nuclear medicine in 20 countries for the Department of State, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the International Atomic Energy Agency. He was a charter member, fellow, and editorial adviser for the American Nuclear Society.

During his career, he authored numerous scientific articles and coauthored the book "Radioisotope Techniques," which was translated into several languages. He is also the author of "Basic Concepts of Nuclear Chemistry" and "Who Am I? The Faith of a Scientist." He was a substitute church pianist and organist for 65 years and played the string bass in various community symphony orchestras for 45 years.

He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Dorothy P. Sugarbaker; two children, Ted Overman and Ann Scott; two stepchildren, Evan Sugarbaker and David Sugarbaker; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

An emeritus member, Overman joined ACS in 1942 and served on advisory boards for several ACS publications.

A. Ian Scott, 79, a Texas A&M University chemist who discovered how bacteria produce vitamin B-12, died of a heart attack on April 18.

Born and educated in Glasgow, Scotland, Scott received his doctorate from Glasgow University in 1952 and held chairs of chemistry at the University of British Columbia, the University of Sussex, and Yale University before coming to Texas A&M.

He joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1977 and was named a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry in 1981. His research interests were the interfaces of organic chemistry, NMR spectroscopy, and natural product biosynthetic pathways.

He is best known for his studies of the mechanisms of the enzymes that mediate the biosynthesis of alkaloids, antibiotics, and vitamin B-12. His work with vitamin B-12 included a 17-step, single-flask synthesis of an advanced B-12 intermediate using 12 enzymes. Most recently, Scott's group discovered a second anaerobic pathway to vitamin B-12.

His work has been recognized by numerous awards, including the ACS Ernest Guenther and Arthur C. Cope Scholar Awards, the Centenary Lectureship and Natural Product Chemistry Award of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Tetrahedron Prize for Creativity in Organic Chemistry, the Robert A. Welch Award, the Royal Medal of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Davy Medal of the Royal Society of London, and most recently the 2003 Nakanishi Prize conferred by ACS.

Scott is survived by his wife of 57 years, Elizabeth; two children, Will Scott and Ann Ryder; and six grandchildren. He joined ACS in 1956.

Robert G. Snyder, 77, a physical chemist and authority on vibrational spectroscopy, died on Feb. 28.

Born in Boise, Idaho, in 1929, Snyder attended Oregon State University in Corvallis, where he received a B.A. degree in chemistry. He remained at Oregon State to work with J. C. Decius and was awarded an M.A. in 1953 and a Ph.D. in 1955, both in chemistry.

Snyder was a postdoctoral fellow with Bryce Crawford Jr. at the University of Minnesota; from 1956 to 1972, he worked as a research chemist for Shell Development in Emeryville, Calif. At Shell, he published his first paper on the vibrational spectra of methylene chain molecules (n-alkanes), and this subject became the focus for much of his professional work. During this period, Snyder published papers with Jerry Schachtschneider on normal coordinate analysis. He soon became recognized worldwide for his encyclopedic knowledge of paraffin spectra.

From 1972 to 1975 and from 1976 to 1978, he was employed by Western Regional Research Center of the Department of Agriculture, in Berkeley, Calif. From 1978 on, he was a senior research scientist in the laboratory of Herbert Strauss at the University of California, Berkeley. Snyder is survived by his wife, Kay, and four children. He joined ACS in 1974.

James R. Stephens, 81, an organic chemist and holder of 47 U.S. patents, died on Feb. 2.

Born in Pittsburgh, Stephens received a B.S. degree from St. Vincent College, Latrobe, Pa.; an M.S. from the University of Pittsburgh; and a Ph.D. degree from Northwestern University in 1953.

On his retirement in 1987, Stephens ranked fourth in patent productivity for Amoco Chemicals, his employer of more than 30 years. Some of his more well-known patents included Torlon (a polyamide-imide high-strength plastic) and AI Polymer (a coating that had many applications for Amoco Chemicals, including as a coating for cookware and aluminum and copper wire). Many of his polyamide-imide engineering thermoplastics are widely used today and are most commonly applied to seal rings and ball bearings for automobile applications, jet engine components, and high-temperature coatings.

Among his awards are the 1954 Glycerine Research Award from the Glycerine Producers' Association, the 1986-87 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), and the 1986-87 SPE Thermoplastic Materials & Foam Division's Outstanding Achievement Award. Among his other pursuits, Stephens was an accomplished stock and bond investor; a master gardener; and an avid coin, stamp, and fossil collector.

Stephens is survived by his wife of 52 years, Beatrice; four children, James L. Stephens, Andrew W. J. Stephens, Paul B. Stephens, and Rhea Stephens-Pons; and 10 grandchildren. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1947.


Obituaries are written by Linda Raber. Obituary notices may be sent to and should include detailed educational and professional history.

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