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Clare C. Johnston

by Susan J. Ainsworth
January 10, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 2


Clare C. Johnston, 82, a retired chemist for the city of Pontiac, Mich., died on Nov. 23, 2009, from complications after heart bypass surgery.

Born in Rockford, Mich., Johnston received a B.S. in chemistry in 1948, an M.S. in chemistry in 1954, and a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1961, all from the University of Michigan.

He worked as a doctoral research fellow under David E. Metzler at Iowa State University from 1959 until 1961 and served in the U.S. Army’s 2nd Armored Division from 1950 until 1952 as part of the occupation forces in Germany after World War II.

Johnston began his career at the Edsel B. Ford Institute for Medical Research, in Detroit, studying biological pathways linked to kidney disease. Then, from 1967 until 1976, he worked at the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute, in Chicago, where he supervised the clinical chemistry and hematology laboratory for the Artificial Heart Test & Evaluation Facility as part of the national Artificial Heart Program.

In the mid-1970s, Johnston took a job at Eberline Instrument in West Chicago, Ill., where he conducted radiobioassays, monitoring the environment for the effects of radionuclides released from nuclear power plants. He also studied the impact of the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island.

From 1982 until 1992, Johnston served as chief chemist for Pontiac’s wastewater treatment facility. He conducted a demonstration plant study with the Environmental Protection Agency and Air Products & Chemicals showing the feasibility of using biological processes for effective phosphorus removal in cold-climate environments. He was named Employee of the Year for the city of Pontiac in 1991. Johnston authored several papers and taught courses at several institutions.

He was a member of numerous professional and community organizations and an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1961. An amateur radio operator, he also enjoyed studying music, art, literature, languages, and religion.

Johnston is survived by his wife of 44 years, Priscilla Jean, and his son, Mark.



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