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Peter A. S. Smith

by Susan J. Ainsworth
May 11, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 19

Peter A. S. Smith, 94, a professor of chemistry emeritus at the University of Michigan who lived in Dexter, Mich., died on Nov. 29, 2014.

Born in London, Smith received a B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1941. He then moved to the University of Michigan, where he worked with Werner Bachmann in the Office of Scientific Research & Development, a federal agency created for military purposes during World War II.

While at Michigan, Smith received a Ph.D. in 1944 before becoming an instructor in the university’s chemistry department. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1948 and full professor in 1959.

Smith’s research focused on the chemistry of organic nitrogen compounds, especially organic azides. He retired in 1990.

He served as book review editor for the Journal of the American Chemical Society from 1971 until 1990 and chair of the Commission on Nomenclature for the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry from 1988 until 1991.

The University of Michigan held a symposium in Smith’s honor in 1991 and also established the Peter A. S. Smith Graduate Fellowship.

An expert on Egyptian philately, Smith received the Crawford Medal in 2000 from the Royal Philatelic Society London for his book “Egypt: Stamps and Postal History.” He was editor emeritus of the Collectors Club Philatelist.

Smith is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Mary; their son, Kent; daughter, Leslie Nyckel; three grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

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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