Obituaries | June 30, 2008 Issue - Vol. 86 Issue 26 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 26 | pp. 44-45 | Obituaries
Issue Date: June 30, 2008


Department: ACS News

James P. Barry, 81, a retired chemical executive, died on May 11 from aspiration pneumonia after suffering multiple strokes in the course of 18 years.

Born in Southampton, N.Y., Barry served in the Army during World War II. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Pennsylvania State University in 1950 and completed some graduate course work at Columbia University in the 1950s.

Barry began his career as an executive trainee at Allied Chemical in 1951. He progressed through the corporation as salesman, product manager, and district sales manager. Over the course of his life, he worked for companies including Pfister Chemical, Ashland Oil & Refining, Inmont, J. T. Baker Chemical, Dynamit Nobel, and Borichem, where he retired as a result of a stroke in 1990.

Barry was a member of the Chemists’ Club in New York City and an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1957.

He is survived by two daughters and a son.

Avrom A. Blumberg, 82, DePaul University chemistry professor emeritus, died on Oct. 28, 2007, after a long illness.

Blumberg earned a B.S. degree in chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1949 and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale University in 1953. He was then appointed as a fellow at the Mellon Institute, where he conducted research on the properties of glass and polymers. There he also worked in the lab of Nobel Laureate Paul J. Flory.

In 1963, he began his career at DePaul in Chicago as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 1967 and to full professor in 1975. He headed the college’s division of natural sciences and mathematics from 1966 to 1982 and served as department chair from 1986 to 1992.

Blumberg’s research centered on physical and polymer chemistry. He retired in August 2006 after 43 years at DePaul. He received the William T. Cortelyou-Martin J. Lowery Award for Excellence in Teaching & Scholarship in 1983. An emeritus member of ACS, he joined in 1963.


J. Gunther Cohn, 97, an Engelhard Industries chemist who pioneered emissions abatement technology, died in New York City on March 24 from Alzheimer’s disease complications.

Born in Berlin, Cohn earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Berlin in 1934. Unable to find work in Nazi Germany, Cohn received a fellowship at the Nobel Institute in Stockholm. In 1940, he fled to the U.S. to study at the University of Minnesota under a Carnegie Research Fellowship.

In 1943, Cohn was hired by Engelhard (then Baker & Co.) in Newark, N.J. He received his first patent in 1949 and became the company’s director of research in 1957.

In the course of his research, Cohn invented selective catalytic reduction. Among the reaction’s applications is the conversion of toxic nitrogen oxides into harmless diatomic nitrogen. He also invented the first catalytic converter, which was first applied to forklift trucks emitting toxic fumes in factories. Over the years, Cohn modified this technology for use on automobiles. He also developed catalytic processes to decrease harmful emissions from ammonia plants and to manufacture fuel cells.

Cohn retired from Engelhard in 1976 but worked there as a consultant until 1992. He was a guest lecturer at the Royal Technical University in Stockholm until 1996.

During his career, Cohn was issued more than 55 patents and authored at least 50 articles. In 1987, Cohn received the International Precious Metal Industry’s Distinguished Achievement Award. He was a member of the Electrochemical Society and an emeritus member of ACS, which he joined in 1942.

He is survived by his daughter, Viveka Gould, and granddaughter, Jillian. Cohn’s wife, Catherine, died in 2002.


Coyner B. Graf, 23, a biochemist, died suddenly in San Diego on March 23.

Graf moved from Manhattan, Kan., to Ashland, Ore., with his parents, both Southern Oregon University (SOU) faculty members, in 1995. He graduated cum laude from SOU in 2006 with a degree in biochemistry with honors. He then took a position as a senior research associate for the Medicinal Chemistry department of Ligand Pharmaceuticals in San Diego.

Graf held a 2004 summer internship in chemistry research at the University de Poitiers in France. His research at SOU contributed to two professional publications and one presentation. He had a particular interest in NMR spectroscopy. He had been a member of ACS since 2006.

Survivors include his parents, Joseph L. Graf and Sandra J. Coyner.


Ahamindra Jain, 45, director of undergraduate laboratories and lecturer at Harvard University, died on May 10 from cancer.

Born in India and raised in Flushing, N.Y., Jain obtained a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984. He then entered the M.D. program at Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology, but he left after two years to pursue his passion for chemistry. He studied under Harvard’s George M. Whitesides and worked on various aspects of carbonic anhydrase inhibitors.

Jain earned a Ph.D. from Harvard in August 1992. He was a Johnson & Johnson research fellow from 1988 to 1990 and a National Institutes of Health predoctoral trainee from 1986 to 1988.

In June 1993, after briefly returning to the Harvard-MIT M.D. program, Jain accepted a postdoctoral appointment at Pennsylvania State University in the laboratory of Ken Johnson.

Jain then served as visiting assistant professor in the department of chemistry of Swarthmore College from 1996 to 2000. He then took a position as a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2006, he joined Harvard as director of undergraduate laboratories and lecturer.

He received accolades for his teaching and mentoring of students, including Harvard’s Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Prize in 1989 and two awards from UC Berkeley, the Unsung Hero Award in 2005 and the Department of Chemistry Teaching Award in 2003. Jain had been a member of ACS since 1985.

Jain is survived by his wife, Richa; daughter, Divya; and son, Amartya.


Deborah E. Kilmartin, 53, an environmental chemist, died on May 6 in Drexel Hill, Pa., following complications of a surgery earlier in the year.

Born in Darby, Pa., Kilmartin earned an associate’s degree in natural science from Delaware County Community College and a B.S. in chemistry and biology from West Chester University in 1979. After brief stints with the Delaware County Water Quality Control Authority, Chem-Clear, and AGES Laboratories, she began work toward a master’s degree in environmental chemistry at Drexel University. In 1989, she obtained certification as a chemical hazardous materials manager from Drexel’s health and safety department.

Kilmartin then accepted a chemist position at Halliburton Nuclear Utility Services (now part of Tetra Tech NUS), a contractor under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Program. Later, she worked at the Philadelphia Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and at Environmental Standards, an environmental consulting firm, before being forced to leave full-time employment for health reasons. She then worked as a consultant to some of her former employers.

A member of ACS since 1983, Kilmartin was active within the Philadelphia Section, having served as director, councilor, secretary, section chair, and editor of its newsletter. Kilmartin also served on the ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement and the Admissions Committee.

She received the ACS Salutes to Excellence Award in 2003 and service awards from the Philadelphia Section in both 1988 and 1994.

Kilmartin volunteered with the Expanding Your Horizons program, a nonprofit organization that encourages women to pursue science and math careers, and was active in the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation.

Kilmartin is survived by her brothers, Kevin and Sean; and her sisters, Kathleen Crawford, Colleen Scattolini, and Maureen K. Carreño.


Julia E. Morgan, 85, a retired research chemist, died in her sleep in her hometown of Asheville, N.C., on April 28.

Morgan graduated with a B.S. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1944.

She began her career as a research chemist at Ecusta Paper in Pisgah Forest, N.C. Later, she worked as a toxicological chemist at the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University and at Cabarrus Memorial Hospital in Concord, N.C. In 1953, she joined American Enka (now part of BASF).

Morgan held numerous positions at the company, including manager of the rayon research analytical laboratory, manager of the polymer control lab and analytical development lab, research analytical section head, and manager of the analytical and testing research department. She retired in 1987.

She was active in West Asheville Baptist Church, Hominy Baptist Church, the League of Women Voters, and Pilot International. She was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1947.

Survivors include her nieces and nephews, Gwyn Bowles, Marsha Henson, Frank Morgan, John Morgan, Steve Morgan, Carol Tyndall, Libba Wagner, and David Williams.

Herbert Pender Jr., 79, a retired research chemist, died on April 30, in Lexington, Ala., after an extended illness.

Born in Knoxville, Tenn., Pender joined the Navy in 1946, and served for more than three years. He then attended Florence State Teachers College in Alabama, graduating in 1953. He completed some graduate work at the University of Cincinnati and University of Louisville.

During his career, Pender worked for 12 years for Anheuser-Busch, six years for Ralston Purina, and six years for Washington University. He retired in 1986.

Pender was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1960. He attended Lexington United Methodist Church.

Pender is survived by his wife of 54 years, Glendale; three daughters, Susan Sneed, Martha Aberson, and Kathryn Krull; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Frank Pollien, 85, a DuPont chemical engineer, died on April 27, in Ellsworth, Maine.

Born in New York City, Pollien began working toward a chemical engineering degree at New York University in 1941 before joining the Air Corps Reserve the following year. In early 1943, he entered active duty as an aviation cadet. He graduated as an aerial navigator and subsequently flew 50 combat missions in B-24 bombers as a member of the 15th Air Force stationed in Italy. After his tour of combat duty he was a navigator on airplanes being delivered to Asia in preparation for an invasion of Japan.

Upon discharge from the Air Corps, Pollien earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1948. He then began working for DuPont at its Fairfield, Conn., plant, where he remained for 27 years, rising to the role of plant manager. In 1975, he transferred to DuPont’s Fort Madison, Iowa, plant. In the early 1980s, he moved to the company’s headquarters in Wilmington, Del. He retired in 1985. An emeritus member of ACS, Pollien joined in 1954.

He was active in Faith in Action and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ellsworth.

He was predeceased by his wife of 37 years, Jane. Survivors include his sons, William and Robert, and one grandson.

Douglas A. Skoog, 89, an emeritus professor of chemistry at Stanford University, died on April 27.

Born in Willmar, Minn., Skoog received a B.S. in chemistry from Oregon State University in 1940 and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1943.

He was a research scientist and group leader at Standard Oil Co. of California (now Chevron) from 1943 to 1947, when he joined the faculty at Stanford University. From 1962 to 1976, he served as the associate executive head of chemistry at Stanford. He took early retirement in 1976 to write textbooks.

Skoog coauthored three textbooks in analytical chemistry: “Fundamentals of Analytical Chemistry,” “Analytical Chemistry: An Introduction,” and “Principles of Instrumental Analysis,” which are used worldwide.

He received the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry Excellence in Teaching Award in 1993 and the ACS Award in Analytical Chemistry in 1999. He was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1998. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1942.

Skoog is survived by his wife of 65 years, Judith, and his grandson, Jon. He was preceded in death by his two sons, James and Jon.


Obituaries are written by Susan J. Ainsworth. Obituary notices may be sent to and should include a detailed educational and professional history.

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