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Thomas D. Fontaine Jr.

by Susan J. Ainsworth
May 6, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 18

Thomas D. Fontaine Jr., 96, a retired associate director for education at the National Science Foundation, died on Feb. 3 in Sarasota, Fla.

Born in Utica, Miss., Fontaine received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Mississippi College, in Clinton, in 1937 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh in 1942.

He began his career working as a research chemist and an administrator in the Department of Agriculture’s research laboratories in New Orleans, La.; Beltsville, Md.; and Wyndmoor, Pa. In 1955, he moved to Washington, D.C., to serve as an administrative assistant to Sen. John C. Stennis (D-Miss.).

Two years later, he joined NSF, rising to the rank of associate director for education before retiring in 1971. He then served as director of sponsored research at the University of Florida, Gainesville, until 1976.

Author or coauthor of 71 articles, Fontaine received NSF’s Distinguished Service Award, the highest civilian award for federal service. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1941.

Fontaine’s wife of 65 years, Louise, died in 2007. He is survived by a daughter, Lynn Adelson; a son, Thomas III; and five grandchildren.

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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