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W. James Harper

by Susan J. Ainsworth
November 17, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 46

W. James Harper, 91, a professor emeritus of food science and technology at Ohio State University, died on July 12 in Columbus, Ohio.

Born in Lafayette, Ind., Harper received a B.S. in dairy technology from Purdue University in 1946 and a Ph.D. in dairy technology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1949.

He then became an assistant professor in the department of dairy technology at Ohio State, where he would remain until 1981.

Harper moved to New Zealand to head up a whey protein concentrate program at New Zealand Dairy Research Institute. He returned to the U.S. in 1986 and worked as a consultant.

In 1992, he rejoined the Ohio State faculty as its J. T. “Stubby” Parker Endowed Chair in Dairy Foods, and remained active in teaching and research until his death.

Harper received numerous awards including the Institute of Food Technologists’ Stephen S. Chang Award for Lipid or Flavor Research in 1999. He also received three teaching awards.

He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1953.

He was past-president of the Central Ohio Orchid Society and a judge for the American Orchid Society, and he identified new orchid species all over the world.

Harper was preceded in death by his first wife, Eloise. He is survived by his second wife, Helen; his sons, Kenn and Scott; his daughter, Virginia; two grandchildren; and two 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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