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Frederick J. Mathews

by Susan J. Ainsworth
May 20, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 20

Frederick J. Mathews, 94, founder of the laboratory equipment firm Laboratory Craftsmen, died on Jan. 25.

Born in Columbus, Wis., Mathews earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Carroll College (now Carroll University), in Waukesha, Wis., in 1940 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1943.

During World War II, he worked briefly at Rohm and Haas, modifying Plexiglas for use in plane canopies and bomber bubbles.

After the war, Mathews joined Beloit College, in Wisconsin, as an assistant professor of chemistry in 1947. While there, he developed and patented electric laboratory heaters for use with chemical flasks, which could be used in certain experiments as a safer alternative to a flame.

Then in 1960, Mathews left the college to start Laboratory Craftsmen to produce and market his lab heaters and other related equipment. Remaining with the company until 2001, he expanded its product portfolio and its reach into global markets.

He was an emeritus member of ACS who joined in 1956.

Serving as a deacon and choir member of First Presbyterian Church in Beloit, Mathews was also an active volunteer in the YMCA, the American Field Service’s exchange program, the Welty Environmental Center, and the Beloit Historical Society. He enjoyed tennis, golf, Ping-Pong, kayaking, sailing, and racquetball, which he played until age 80.

Mathews is survived by his daughter, Nell, and two grandsons. He was predeceased by his wife, Ethel, and son, Carl.

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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