Obituaries | January 29, 2007 Issue - Vol. 85 Issue 5 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 85 Issue 5 | p. 47 | Obituaries
Issue Date: January 29, 2007


Department: ACS News

Donald E. Garrett, 83, a retired chemical engineer, died on Dec. 14, 2006.

Born in Long Beach, Calif., he spent his first year of college at California Institute of Technology as Linus Pauling's lab assistant. He was drafted into the U.S. Army's Special Engineering Detachment in 1942 and was later stationed at Los Alamos, N. M., where he worked on an imploder device and designed plutonium recovery systems.

Garrett received a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1947, and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Ohio State University in 1948 and 1950, respectively.

He then went on to work at Dow Chemical, where he designed pilot plants. Garrett also formed his own research and consulting company in La Verne, Calif. He sold his company to Occidental Petroleum in 1967 and was executive vice president for R&D for Oxy until 1975.

He was noted for his wide-ranging expertise in crystallization, phase chemistry, solar pond evaporation, solvent extraction, and oil shale recovery, among many other fields. Garrett was also considered a pioneer in developing processes to recover useful minerals from Searles Lake, Great Salt Lake, and, more recently, Andean dry lakes in Northern Chile and Argentina.

Garrett served as adjunct professor of chemical engineering economics at UC Santa Barbara from 1983 to 1989. His earlier teaching career included an instructorship at Ohio State and part-time positions at UCLA and California State University, Long Beach. In more recent years, he authored six books on chemical engineering topics.

Garrett is survived by his wife of 31 years, Maggie; three children; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Benjamin L. Harris, 89, a chemical engineer, died on Nov. 18, 2006, of osteomyelitis, a bone infection.

Born in Georgia, he earned a B.E. in gas engineering in 1938 and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 1941 from Johns Hopkins University. He was also a diplomate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (Resident Course) in 1965.

After serving in the military during World War II, Harris returned to Johns Hopkins, where he worked for seven years as an assistant professor of chemical engineering. A registered professional engineer in Maryland and the author of numerous technical publications, he was the president of a small consulting company as well.

He consulted for the federal government in 1949 and entered federal service full time three years later. He held positions at R&D Command, Chemical Corps, Department of the Army (1952-65), and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (1966-70). He returned to the Army in 1970 as technical director at Edgewood Arsenal. In 1977, he became deputy director of the Army's Chemical Systems Laboratory, which was formed to carry on the R&D mission and functions previously assigned to Edgewood Arsenal. He retired in 1981 but continued consulting through his own business, Engineering Research Co., based in Glenarm, Md.

Harris was active in his church and community. He was preceded in death by his wife, Janet. He is survived by five children and 11 grandchildren. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1940.

Curtis Elton Huff, 95, a retired industrial rubber chemist, died on Dec. 7, 2006.

He grew up in Leesburg, Ohio, and mastered sports and the violin. In the fall of 1929, he enrolled in Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He covered his costs with a watch repair business he developed. Under the Antioch cooperative study plan, he also was a control chemist for the Oxford Miami Paper Mill, a psychophysiologist at the Fels Institute, and an assistant in photosynthesis research at the Charles S. Kettering Foundation. He graduated with a B.S. in chemistry in 1939.

He then took a job in Indiana with Ball Band, a former division of the U.S. Rubber Co. Huff's chemical research produced several patents, including rubber for O-rings in airplanes; the foam cushion in the helmet Chuck Yeager wore when he broke the sound barrier; and Ensolite, a closed-cell foam product that cushions, for example, Astroturf and automobiles.

Huff was recognized by Scientific American as one of a dozen "new industrial managers" in the U.S. in the late 1960s.

An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1938, serving one term as chairman of the St. Joseph Valley Section.

Huff was active in his community and church. For example, he photographed babies at their baptism and freely gave the pictures to the families.

His wife, Miriam, died last spring. Huff is survived by two children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Frank R. Meeks, 77, a retired professor of physical chemistry at the University of Cincinnati, died on Dec. 6, 2006.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Meeks received a B.S. in chemistry and mathematics from Texas Christian University in 1949 and a Ph.D. from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1955.

Following postgraduate study at the University of North Carolina, Meeks joined the chemistry faculty at the University of Cincinnati in 1957, where he remained until his retirement in 2002. He specialized in thermodynamics, and much of his research centered on the study of diffusion processes and, in recent years, the behavior of plasmas.

Meeks is survived by a brother. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1953.

Russell J. Rowlett Jr., 86, a former editor of Chemical Abstracts (CA) and a pioneer in chemical information science, died on Nov. 17, 2006.

He graduated from the University of Virginia with B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry.

Rowlett started in 1946 as a volunteer abstractor for CA while he worked as an industrial research chemist. From 1947 to 1952, he indexed organic chemistry abstracts full time.

He returned to his native Virginia and became director of R&D for Virginia-Carolina Chemical Corp. In 1960, Rowlett became assistant director of the Virginia Institute of Scientific Research.

In 1967, Rowlett became the CA editor. He then served as director of Chemical Abstract Publications & Services from 1979 until his retirement in 1982.

Rowlett received the ACS Herman Skolnik Award in 1983 for, among other accomplishments, "guiding Chemical Abstracts' transition from a manually produced abstracting and indexing publication to a computer-generated family of products."

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Lillian; two sons; three grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1941.


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

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