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Donald D. DeFord

by Susan J. Ainsworth
June 2, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 22

Donald D. DeFord, 95, professor of chemistry emeritus at Northwestern University, died on March 1 in Peoria, Ariz.

Born in Alton, Kan., DeFord earned a B.A. in 1940, an M.A. in 1947, and a Ph.D. in 1948, all from the University of Kansas. He served in the Army during World War II and subsequently in the reserves for 20 years, rising to the rank of colonel.

DeFord joined Northwestern in 1948 and served as chemistry department chair for nine years.

At Northwestern, he established an analytical services laboratory and served as science adviser to the provost, assistant vice president for research, and director of the Office for Research & Sponsored Programs. He retired in 1987.

DeFord was a prodigious scholar who published more than 40 scholarly papers in chemical journals and served as a member of the advisory board of Analytical Chemistry.

A pioneer in the use of operational amplifiers in chemistry, DeFord carried out work that laid the foundation for the development of modern electrochemical instrumentation. DeFord was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1951.

In 2002, DeFord and his wife, Leora, moved to Sun City West, Ariz., where they were members of the Desert Palms Presbyterian Church. He was a dedicated gardener and a handyman who could fix or make almost anything for family and friends.

DeFord’s wife, whom he married in 1942, died in 2009. He is survived by his daughter, Ruth Kotecha; son, David; and four 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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