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Charles R. Estee

by Susan J. Ainsworth
November 19, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 47

Charles R. Estee, 90, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of South Dakota (USD), died on Aug. 14.

Born in Hecla, S.D., Estee received a B.S., cum laude, in chemistry from Jamestown College, in Jamestown, N.D., in 1942, before working on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Es-tee then earned an M.S. in 1944 and a Ph.D. in 1947, both in physical chemistry, at the University of Iowa.

After finishing his education, Estee joined the chemistry department at USD. He served as department chair from 1952 until 1984 and helped the department establish a Ph.D. program in chemistry. He published 18 scientific articles.

He was selected as the Harrington Lecturer in 1969 by USD’s College of Arts & Sciences, for which he served as interim dean, chair of the science division, and a member of the advisory committee. He served as chairperson of the university senate for six terms. After retiring in 1991, he acted as USD’s chemical and hazardous waste control officer until 1997.

Outside the university, Estee served as assistant program director for the National Science Foundation for one year. He was also active in the National Science Teachers Association and the Society for College Science Teachers.

He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1946.

Alumni, colleagues, and friends created two endowments in his honor: the Chas. R. Estee Lectureship in Science Education and the Chas. R. Estee Presidential Alumni Chemistry Scholarship.

Active in public service, Estee was also a master vegetable gardener and grew hundreds of gladioli each year.

He is survived by Judith Lynn Sebesta, his wife of 36 years; son, Charles; daughters, Barbara Remington and Elizabeth; and three grandchildren. He was predeceased by his first wife, Doris.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.


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