Ralph Tekel, 94, a professor of organic chemistry at La Salle College (now La Salle University), died of pneumonia in Philadelphia on Oct. 8.
Born in New York City, Tekel earned a B.S. degree in chemistry from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute (now New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering) in 1941. He then worked as a researcher at the Pediatric Research Laboratories at Jewish Hospital in Brooklyn.
Enrolling at Purdue University, he received an M.S. in 1947 and a Ph.D. in 1949, both in chemistry. While in graduate school, he unwittingly became involved in the Manhattan Project. Led by Henry B. Hass, his group prepared fluorocarbons, which the researchers later learned were used to separate uranium isotopes for the atomic bomb.
Tekel worked in chemical development for various drug companies, including Wyeth Laboratories and the National Drug Co. of Philadelphia. He was involved in the production of steroids, penicillin, antibiotics, and psychoactive drugs. From 1965 until his retirement in 1985, Tekel was a professor of organic chemistry at La Salle College.
He was an emeritus fellow of the American Institute of Chemists and a member of the New York Academy of Sciences. He was a 70-year, emeritus member of ACS.
Nurturing a lifelong interest in photography, he was a member of several camera clubs and won numerous awards.
Tekel and his third wife, Lillian, whom he married in 1960, endowed a scholarship at La Salle and enjoyed traveling.
In addition to his wife, Tekel is survived by his daughters, Linda Beelitz and Billie Elias; stepdaughters, Debbie and Cindy Stevens; and three grandchildren. His stepson, Arthur Stevens, predeceased him.
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