Issue Date: April 23, 2012
Elliot S. Pierce Sr.
Elliot S. Pierce Sr., 89, a retired Department of Energy chemist, died on Jan. 29 at his home in Kensington, Md.
Born in Attleboro, Mass., Pierce earned a B.S. in chemistry from Yale University in 1943. He then enlisted in the Navy, disarming underwater explosives during World War II. Pierce returned to Yale in 1946, earning a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1950.
After teaching chemistry at the University of Massachusetts for a year, Pierce worked as a research scientist at American Cyanamid’s Lederle Laboratories, where he aided in the discovery of methotrexate, which is used in the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases. While at the company, he worked briefly in industrial research recruitment and as a technical liaison to government agencies. Pierce subsequently worked in research and education administration for the Air Force.
In 1962, he joined the Atomic Energy Commission, where he helped reshape its basic chemical research, expanding its focus from nuclear research to research in all energy areas. Until his retirement in 1987, Pierce remained with the organization as it eventually evolved into the Department of Energy. He then continued as a chemical consultant to various government groups for many years.
An advocate of equal opportunity, Pierce hired and promoted women and minority staffers at DOE, working against then-prevailing practices.
Pierce was an emeritus member of ACS, which he joined in 1947, remaining active in ACS governance for 30 years. He was a lifetime member of the National Research Council’s Board on Chemical Sciences & Technology and a member of Sigma Xi.
He and his wife, Vivianne, traveled around the world, indulging their passion for ballroom and folk dancing. He officiated at weddings as a minister in the Church of Spiritual Humanism.
Pierce is survived by his wife; son, Elliot Jr.; daughters, Katrina-Pilar Taillard and Roxanne; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
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