Obituaries | March 3, 2008 Issue - Vol. 86 Issue 9 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 9 | pp. 51-52 | Obituaries
Issue Date: March 3, 2008


Department: ACS News

Ronda E. (Ron) Feathers Jr., 76, a chemical industry executive, died on Nov. 10, 2007, following a multiple-year battle with renal cell carcinoma.

Feathers was an Air Force veteran; he served in the Korean War as a medical specialist in Japan and in air-sea rescue in Korea. After the war, he resumed his education, receiving a B.S. in chemistry from East Tennessee State University in 1954. Feathers also did graduate work in chemistry at the University of Tennessee and in business at Columbia University.

Feathers started his career as a research associate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He later held positions as an account executive with Union Carbide's chemicals division; as director of worldwide marketing for Thiokol's chemicals division; as president of Wilmington Chemical; and as vice president of EM Corp., a subsidiary of Great Lakes Chemical. Feathers retired in 2000 as emeritus vice president of marketing and administration for WIL Research Laboratories, another Great Lakes Chemical subsidiary. Recently, Feathers was a senior toxicological consultant for Bioanalytical Systems.

He had also been chairman of the Sealants & Adhesives Council of America and served on the U.S. President's Advisory Board for Import & Export Trade.

Feathers is survived by his wife, Jayne, and son, Brian. His first wife, Vivian, died in 2002.

An emeritus member of ACS, he joined in 1961.


Susana M. Halpine,, 50, a Playa del Rey, Calif., biomedical scientist and professional artist, died unexpectedly on Nov. 5, 2007.

Halpine graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in biology from Worcester State College, in Massachusetts, in 1979. In the early 1980s, she worked as a research assistant, first at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology and then at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester.

In 1984, she took a job as a senior technician in the department of pediatrics in the College of Physicians & Surgeons at Columbia University. From 1985 until 1988, she held a staff associate position at Columbia's Howard Hughes Medical Institute, working under Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel. She earned a master's degree in nutrition from the College of Physicians & Surgeons in 1987.

Halpine accepted a position in 1988 as a Mellon fellow in the Conservation Division at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. From 1990 until 1995, Halpine worked as a biochemist at the National Gallery, developing methods for analysis of protein-based artists' materials and organic colorants. In 1995, Halpine moved to a job as a staff associate at North American Vaccine in Beltsville, Md.

Beginning in 1978, she also worked as an artist, exhibiting her canvas paintings in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Southern California; and Boston. She also did work animating biomedical processes for textbook CD-ROMs and interactive websites.

In 2001, she developed the STArt! Teaching Science Through Art program to help students and teachers meet new California Science Standards. At the time of her death, she was a Ph.D. candidate in education at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Halpine also helped to start the Science & the Cinema Program of the ACS Southern California Section. The program, which uses movies to illustrate science, has been renamed the Susana Halpine Science in the Cinema Program.

Halpine is survived by her husband, Stacy Marsella; eight siblings; and her father. She joined ACS in 1994.

Gordon R. Johnston, a Pennsylvania State University assistant chemistry professor, died on Nov. 20, 2007.

Johnston earned bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry from the University of Portland by 1952 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1956.

He started his career as a research chemist with Dow Chemical, moving on to similar positions at Crown Zellerbach and Aerojet General. In 1963, he accepted a position as a postdoctoral fellow at California Institute of Technology. From 1964 until 1966, he was an assistant professor at San Diego College for Women. He then returned to a research chemist role at General Dynamics for a year before accepting an assistant professorship at Penn State University's Beaver campus, which he held until his retirement in 1991. While at Penn State, he accepted another postdoctoral fellowship at Indiana University in 1967 and took a sabbatical at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. He was also a part-time assistant professor at Kent State University's East Liverpool, Ohio, campus from 1984 until 1991.

Johnston was active in the Kids & Chemistry Program of ACS, which he joined in 1950.

Johnston is survived by his wife, Irina; four children and their mother, Mary Ann; and a stepson.


Andrew F. (Andy) Montana, 77, professor emeritus of chemistry at California State University, Fullerton, died on Nov. 22, 2007, in Edmunds, Wash., after a long struggle with cancer.

A native of Washington state, Montana earned a B.S. degree in chemistry from Seattle Pacific University in 1951 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Washington in 1957.

He started his career teaching at the University of Washington and the University of Hawaii, Hilo, where he was assistant professor from 1961 until 1963. He then joined Cal State, Fullerton, serving as chair of the chemistry department from 1965 to 1971 and again from 1977 to 1978. He retired in 1992.

A pioneer in the use of computer-based graphics to help teach chemistry, Montana received the Higher Education Software Award for Best Natural Science Software for Organic Reaction Mechanisms in 1992 from Educom, a nonprofit consortium of higher education institutions focused on information resources. In 2006, he also received an award for Outstanding Chemistry Education Software from the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning & Online Teaching, a California State University-administered program for faculty development and instructional technology.

Montana was an active member of the ACS Orange County Section. He had been chairman of the section and a longtime member of the Education Committee. He was a councilor from 1972 until 1983 and served on numerous ACS committees at the national level. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1954.

While at Cal State, Montana served as the National Collegiate Athletic Association athletic representative for 10 years and as president of the Big West Conference for two years.

He is survived by his wife, Kay; a son, Stephen; and two grandchildren.

Richard E. Moore, 74, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, died on Dec. 11, 2007, after battling multiple myeloma and pneumonia.

Born in San Francisco, Moore earned a B.S. in chemistry in 1957 and an M.S. in chemistry in 1959, both from the University of San Francisco. He received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1963.

Moore then moved to the University of Hawaii to do postdoctoral work in the emerging field of marine natural products under Paul Scheuer. In 1966, he accepted an assistant professor position in the University of Hawaii's chemistry department.

In 1981, he determined the structure of a potent marine toxin, palytoxin, which was a natural products research milestone.

For the next 20 years his research focus shifted from the characterization of seaweed toxins to the discovery of anticancer agents from cyanobacteria. He and his group developed this new resource in drug discovery and through the years isolated and characterized a large collection of novel chemicals, including the cryptophycin family of potent anticancer agents.

During his 42-year tenure at the University of Hawaii, Moore published nearly 300 papers, filed more than 100 patent applications, and was awarded numerous prizes. He retired in 2003.

Moore is survived by his wife of 47 years, Marilyn; four children, Greg, Chris, Brad, and Lori May; and nine grandchildren. He joined ACS in 1967.


Christopher R. Schmid, 48, an Eli Lilly & Co. research chemist, died of lymphoma, on Dec. 26, 2007, in Indianapolis.

Born in Camden, N.J., Schmid earned bachelor's degrees in chemistry and math from King's College in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., in 1981. In 1985, he received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Princeton University, under the tutelage of Martin Semmelhack. Eager to gain experience in total synthesis, Schmid found a postdoctoral appointment with Clayton Heathcock at the University of California, Berkeley.

In 1987, Schmid began his career as a process chemist in the Chemical Product Research & Development group at Lilly in Indianapolis. He contributed to the synthesis of the pharmaceutical products Gemzar and Evista, as well as more than a dozen development drug candidates. Climbing quickly through the ranks, he was promoted to the role of research adviser in 2004. He published more than 15 papers and held several patents.

In 2000, Schmid became an associate editor of Organic Process Research & Development. He was a founding member of the ACS journal's editorial board in 1997. Schmid joined ACS in 1981.

Schmid was a founding member of Christian Leaders for Africa and active in Light of the World Ministries. He is survived by his mother, Neida.

Patsy O'Connell Sherman, 77, a retired 3M chemist who coinvented Scotchgard in her 20s, died in Minneapolis on Feb. 11. She had suffered a stroke in December.

Born in Minneapolis, Sherman earned bachelor's degrees in chemistry and mathematics at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., in 1952. That same year, she joined 3M as a research chemist assigned to work on fluorochemical polymers.

In 1953, Sherman and her colleague, Samuel Smith, began to focus on a serendipitous discovery in a 3M lab. They had been trying to develop a new kind of rubber for jet aircraft fuel lines when one of the assistants accidentally dropped a glass bottle of a sample of synthetic latex, which splashed onto the assistant's canvas tennis shoes. They observed that the latex on the shoe would not wash off or come off with solvent. They also noticed that the material resisted soiling, eventually recognizing the polymer's potential as a fabric protector. Their work led to the first sales of a Scotchgard product, a stain repellent for wool, in 1956.

Sherman continued to develop a line of Scotchgard products, and in 2001 she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. She held more than a dozen patents.

At 3M, Sherman later became a laboratory manager. Then, in the mid-1980s, she developed and ran the company's technical education department. She retired in 1992.

Sherman is survived by two daughters, Sharilyn Loushin, a 3M chemist, and Wendy Heil, a biologist who owns a precision optics company; and two granddaughters. Sherman's husband, Hubert, died in 1996. An emeritus member, she joined ACS in 1953.


Susan F. Thornton, 69, a chemistry professor at Montgomery College, Takoma Park, Md., died on Dec. 22, 2007, of a stroke.

Born in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Thornton earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Ohio State University in 1960 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina in 1964.

After completing her education, Thornton worked at Montgomery College's Rockville campus from 1965 until 1968. She then traveled to India to serve as an education consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development for two years. In 1971, she returned to Montgomery College to begin teaching chemistry at what is now its Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus.

The Maryland State Department of Education awarded Thornton two grants to help her guide elementary teachers in teaching science. Montgomery County public schools recognized her with an Outstanding Service to Education Award for 1987-88.

In addition, Thornton received the Catalyst Award from the Chemical Manufacturers Association in 1989, the Award for Excellence in Science Education from the Maryland Association of Science Teachers in 1990, the Community Service Award from ACS in 1992, the Charles L. Gordon Award from the Chemical Society of Washington in 1994, and an Outstanding Contributions to Science Education Award from the Maryland Association of Science Teachers in 1999.

She wrote articles for the Capital Chemist, the newsletter of the Chemical Society of Washington, and for more than a decade she joined with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration to publish a newsletter for Washington, D.C.-area high school chemistry teachers. An ACS member, she joined in 1961.

She is survived by two sons, Robert and Christopher.


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

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