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Rodney J. O’Connor

by Susan J. Ainsworth
November 24, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 47

Photo of Rodney J. O'Connor.

Rodney J. O’Connor, 80, a retired professor and director of freshman chemistry at Texas A&M University, died on Aug. 7 in College Station, Texas.

Born in Cape Girardeau, Mo., O’Connor earned a B.S. in chemistry, physics, and mathematics at Southeast Missouri State College (now Southeast Missouri State University) in 1955 and a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1958.

After a brief stint as an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Omaha, he held associate professor positions at Montana State University, Kent State University, and the University of Arizona. He also served as a visiting professor at several other universities.

O’Connor joined Texas A&M in 1973, serving as a professor of chemistry and director of freshman chemistry until his retirement from the university in 1986. From 1980 until 1983, he also served as vice president and president of Romec Environmental Research & Development.

He was a professor of environmental studies at Baylor University from 1996 until 1999 and worked as a consultant.

O’Connor received numerous accolades, including several teaching awards from Texas A&M.

He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Chemists and an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1961.

Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Shirley; daughters, Kara Sabrsula and Shanna; son Tim; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son Mark.

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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