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Obituary: Richard W. Rees

by Linda Wang
April 24, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 15


Photo of Richard W. Rees.
Credit: Courtesy of Eric Rees
Richard W. Rees

Richard W. Rees, 91, died Dec. 2, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware.

“Richard was a polymer chemist and inventor who emigrated from postwar Britain to Quebec, and then to the US for a 35-year career with DuPont. He was the primary inventor of ionomeric resins and led multiple follow-on patent and application-development efforts in the field. Trade-named Surlyn, the family of resins became a commercial success for food packaging and safety-glass uses. Surlyn was best known to the public for its usefulness to recreational golfers in the form of no-cut ball covers. Richard’s DuPont career was anchored at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, but included postings to the Orange, Texas, Sabine River Works and the company’s European headquarters in Geneva. In 2002, he was honored by the American Chemical Society as a Heroes of Chemistry winner, and in 2003, he received the Lavoisier Medal, DuPont’s top technical achievement award. He had an abiding affection for his Welsh homeland and exemplified his heritage through musical and narrative accomplishments throughout his life.”—Eric Rees, son

Most recent title: Senior research fellow, DuPont

Education: BSc, chemistry, 1950 and PhD, chemistry, 1953, University of Wales

Survivors: Son, Eric; two granddaughters

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