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Murray Senkus

by Susan J. Ainsworth
January 18, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 3

Murray Senkus, 95, a retired R. J. Reynolds Tobacco research director, died in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Nov. 12, 2009.

Born near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to parents who had emigrated from what is now Ukraine, Senkus earned a master’s of science degree in 1936 from the University of Saskatchewan. He then earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1938.

Senkus began his career as a research chemist for Commercial Solvents in Terre Haute, Ind., contributing to World War II-related projects such as developing synthetic rubber and a process to stabilize penicillin so it could be stored without refrigeration.

Senkus became director of the chemical division of the newly established research department of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco in Winston-Salem in 1951. He was director of research in 1964 and director of scientific affairs in 1977. He retired from the company in 1979.

Senkus then consulted for the Tobacco Institute in Washington, D.C.; served as director of development for P. T. Djarum in Jakarta, Indonesia; and worked as a litigation consultant. He authored 20 scientific articles and held 57 U.S. patents and several foreign patents.

He was a member of numerous organizations, including the New York Academy of Sciences, the Shevchenko Scientific Society, and several tobacco-related research organizations. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1940.

Senkus was predeceased by both his first wife Emily and his second wife, Ethel. He is survived by sons, Neal, Bill, and David; daughter Joanne Prior; six grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; two step-daughters, Kathy Hylton and Trish Decker; six step-grandchildren; and 10 step-great grandchildren.


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