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Award For Volunteer Service To The American Chemical Society

by Linda Wang
January 7, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 1

Credit: Marian Larisey
William H. (Jack) Breazeale Jr.
Credit: Marian Larisey

Sponsored by ACS

After graduating from high school in 1956, William H. (Jack) Breazeale Jr. didn’t know what he wanted to do, so he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve.

“My father and mother both wanted me to go to college, and I simply said, ‘I’m not ready to go,’ ” says Breazeale, who is now 74.

Upon entering basic training in the Army, he received a battery of intelligence exams. “My cadre sergeant came up to me and said, ‘Breazeale, the company commander wants to see you,’ ” he says. “I’m thinking, ‘What have I done?’ ”

The commander informed Breazeale that the tests showed he had above-average intelligence. “Why in the devil are you not in college?” the commander asked.

Breazeale finished his six- month active duty requirement in the Army and then enrolled at Wilmington Junior College, where he spent the next two years. He then transferred to the University of South Carolina, where he earned a B.S. in chemistry in 1961 and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1966.

Studying chemistry did something else for Breazeale: “Up until the 11th grade, I stuttered like a machine gun,” he says. “I was taking chemistry in high school, and the first chemistry test that came along, I aced the thing. The class genius made 95 or 96%. I suddenly realized, ‘You are not as unsure as you think you are.’ ”

From almost that day forward, he didn’t stutter.

After receiving his Ph.D., Breazeale taught at Winthrop College in Rock Hill, S.C. In 1970, he joined Francis Marion University, in Florence, S.C., as a founding faculty member. At Francis Marion he served as chair of the department of chemistry and physics until his retirement in 1997. Today, Breazeale is professor emeritus at Francis Marion and an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston.

Breazeale’s service to ACS dates back to 1984 when he became a councilor for the South Carolina Section. He has also served on the Committee on Chemical Safety, the Committee on Committees, and the National Chemistry Week Task Force. Breazeale played an instrumental role in converting the task force into a full committee, which became the Committee on Community Activities. “That was one of the things I’m very proud of having done,” he says.

Breazeale currently chairs the Committee on Nominations & Elections and the Board of Trustees, Group Insurance Plans for ACS Members. He was named an ACS Fellow in 2010.

“Jack Breazeale is a great ambassador for chemistry and the chemistry profession,” says James P. Deavor, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the College of Charleston. “He has served with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.”

Breazeale is also a champion for chemical safety. He has been an instructor for the nonprofit Laboratory Safety Institute since 1985. He chaired the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety from 1995 to 1997.

“Jack really went above and beyond the call of duty on that committee,” says Patricia Redden, who served on the committee with Breazeale and is chemistry professor and chair of the chemistry department at Saint Peter’s University, in New Jersey. “He’s the epitome of a gentle person who is very strong in his commitments and very dedicated to his work.”

Breazeale will present the award address at the ChemLuminary Awards celebration at the fall ACS national meeting in Indianapolis.


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