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Edgar F. Westrum Jr.

by Susan J. Ainsworth
July 14, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 28

Edgar F. Westrum Jr., 95, a professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, died on May 7 of complications after a stroke.

Born in Albert Lea, Minn., Westrum earned a B.S. in chemistry summa cum laude at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, in 1940, and a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1944, alongside an array of brilliant atomic scientists, including Kenneth S. Pitzer and Ernest O. Lawrence.

In the midst of World War II, Westrum moved to the University of Chicago to work on isolating plutonium for the Manhattan Project under Glenn Seaborg.

After the war, Westrum joined the chemistry department at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, as an assistant professor. He remained at the university until his retirement in 1999.

Westrum devoted himself to the study of low-temperature thermodynamics and became an expert at measuring heat capacities. He published 630 scientific papers and two books, and was a cofounder and coeditor of the Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics.

He served as the secretary general of the International Council for Science’s Committee on Data for Science & Technology.

Westrum was a fellow of the American Physical Society and an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1946 and maintaining his membership until 2006. He received numerous awards and honors.

He was also an Eagle Scout and served as president of the Rotary Club of Albert Lea.

Westrum’s wife, Florence, died in 2012. He is survived by his sons, Ron, Scott, and Mike; his daughter, Kris; six grandchildren; and five great-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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