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Newman Bortnick

by Susan J. Ainsworth
June 1, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 22

Photo of Newman Bortnick.

Newman Bortnick, 93, a retired Rohm and Haas corporate research fellow and a former member of the ACS Board of Directors, died in Andorra, Pa., on April 20.

Born in Minneapolis, Bortnick earned a B.S. in chemistry in 1941 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1944, both from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cites.

He then began a long career with Rohm and Haas, rising through the ranks to become a corporate research fellow.

Bortnick’s work led to the discovery, development, and manufacture of acrylic and engineering plastics. He discovered Primene tertiary alkyl primary amines, which are formulated into lubricants and fuel additives, industrial surfactants, solvent-based dyes, and oil-based metalworking fluids and are also used as oil-field and refinery chemicals and chemical intermediates.

He is credited with more than 100 patents and numerous scientific articles. After retiring in 1990, he remained a consultant to Rohm and Haas until he was 89.

Bortnick was an emeritus, 75-year member of ACS. He was a councilor for the Philadelphia Section from 1968 until 1982 and again from 1990 until 1998 and served on the board of directors as a director-at-large from 1983 until 1988.

Bortnick was also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Society of Chemistry and a lifetime member of the Chemical Heritage Foundation.

In 2000, he received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota.

Bortnick was an active member of the Springfield Township, Pa., community and supported the Philadelphia Orchestra as well as many other arts, social service, and civic organizations.

His colleagues remember him warmly for his many contributions to science and society, for being an upbeat and effective mentor, and for his love of adventure, international travel, and family.

His wife Lillian, to whom he was married for nearly 70 years, died in 2012. He is survived by his son, Karl; daughters, Lynn Bergman and Wendy Lefkowich; six grandchildren; and three 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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