University of Wisconsin–Madison

In Memoriam

Many extraordinary people have worked over the years to make the UW-Madison Department of Chemistry the great success it is today. Here we celebrate the memory of our badger alumni and friends.

This listing currently includes those who have passed away in 2017-18. We have limited information in some of the entries. If you would like to add any content or entries, please email the text, as well as the name of the deceased and a link to their obituary online to connect@chem.wisc.edu.

  • Class of 1939
    • Fred Kummerow (10/04/1914 – 05/31/2017)
      1939 BS in Chemistry; 1941 MS in Biochemistry; 1944 Ph.D. in Biochemistry
      Obituary article available from the New York Times
      Dr. Kummerow was a biochemist focused on the health hazards of trans-fatty acids in processed foods. He died at his home in Urbana, Ill at the age of 102.
  • Class of 1942
    • Robert (Bob) Elbert Burks, Jr. (08/24/1917 – 11/07/2017)
      1942 MS in Chemistry; 1948 Ph.D. in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Birmingham News (Alabama), 11/12/2017
      Dr. Robert (Bob) Elbert Burks, Jr. and his wife Mary pioneered the Alabama environmental movement by helping found what is now the Alabama Environmental Council. Bob worked as a research chemist for Southern Research Institute, and taught Polymer Science at the University of Mississippi in Hattiesburg. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Bob to the Alabama Environmental Council.
  • Class of 1945
    • Margaret Mae (Peggy) Rendall (12/6/1923-02/21/2017)
      1945 BA in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from The Journal Times, Racine, WI
      Peggy received her Bachelor’s Degree from UW-Madison and worked as a research chemist at Johnson’s Wax for 40 years.
    • Gilbert Stork (10/21/2017)
      1945 Ph.D. in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from C&E News
      Gilbert was Eugene Higgins Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at Columbia University and published papers up until his death at age 95.
  • Class of 1948
    • Alvin Frisque (01/27/1923 – 01/18/2017)
      1948 BS in Chemistry; 1954 Ph.D. in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from The Chicago Tribune
      Dr. Frisque joined the Army Air Corps, worked on a team that received numerous patents, spend time with Standard Oil in Indiana, and rounded out the remainder of his career at Nalco Chemical Company, until his retirement in 1985.
    • Margaret (Maggie) J. Grant (06/14/2017)
      1948 MA in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Delaware Online
      Maggie was married to her beloved husband and high school sweetheart, Dave, until his death in 2015. She worked as a chemist until her son Duncan was born in 1950.
    • James (Charlie) Nichol (04/06/1922 – 06/20/2017)
      1948 Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Duluth News Tribune
      Charlie did his post doctorate work at Yale University for one year. He loved teaching, reading and learning. He was a 70-year member of the American Chemical Society, and 50-year member of the Royal Chemical Society.
  • Class of 1949
    • Richard James Boomer (10/19/1923 – 04/05/2017)
      1949 BS in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Legacy.com
      Richard served in the US Navy during WWII  and during the Korean Conflict. Richard worked at Abbott Laboratories, until he retired in 1986.
    • Wilbur A.G. Voss (09/10/1926 – 10/31/2017)
      1949 BS in Chemistry; 1957 BS in Pharmacy
      Complete Obituary from Post Crescent
      Wilbur received two bachelor’s degrees from UW-Madison, then became a Registered Pharmacist in 1958 and retired in 1988.
    • Jean Thomas (11/16/1927 – 02/28/2018)
      1949 BS in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Clancy-Gernon Funeral Homes
      Chemistry Course “Obituary for Jean V. Thomas
      Jean wanted to be a chemist after receiving a chemistry set in grade school. She fought the idea that chemistry was not a field for women, graduating Magna cum Laude with a BS in chemistry and minors in mathematics and languages.
      She published papers, worked as a quality control chemist at Armour & Company in Chicago, co-founded PENTEX Incorporated and worked for Miles Scientific. She received numerous honors, including Who’s Who Among American Women (1966), and was on numerous boards.
    • Arthur James (Art) Lueptow (07/06/1924 – 04/14/2017)
      1949 BS in Chemistry; 1950 MS in Biochemistry
      Complete Obituary from Memorial Park Funeral Homes
      Art was a World War II veteran, earning the Bronze Star Medal.
    • John Neptune (04/14/2017)
      1949 MS in Chemistry; 1952 Ph.D
      Memorial Post from San Jose State University
      Worked as part of the Manhattan Project after receiving his Bachelors Degree in Chemistry from Muskingum University. He then UW-Madison, where he received his Ph.D. He most recently served as professor emeritus at San Jose State University in San Jose, CA, where he worked for 52 years.
  • Class of 1950
    • Ruth Meyer Polin (06/29/2017 – 12/15/1927)
      1950 MS in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Estes-Leadley Funeral Home
      Ruth was a research chemist, taught chemistry at several schools, including Michigan State University, and was a reading specialist with The Institute for Research on Teaching. She also received a M.A. in Reading from MSU in 1981.
    • Darwin Lyell Mayfield (02/22/1920 – 04/29/2017)
      1950 Ph.D. in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from the UW-Madison Alumni Association
      During World War II, Darwin worked on the Manhattan Project. He later taught chemistry at the University of Idaho, Moscow, in Bangkok, Thailand and organic chemistry at California State University, Long Beach, until retirement in 1990. After retirement, he continued to teach classes, which included a Paws and Jaws elementary school biology course and a pre-freshman course at CSULB.
  • Class of 1951
    • Irving I. Domsky (09/02/2017)
      1951 BS in Chemistry; 1958 Ph.D. in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from The Chicago Tribune
      Irving worked as  lab director of Allied Laboratories Ltd. in Villa Park.
    • Robert A. Keller (10/14/27 – 01/31/2018)
      1951 BS in Chemistry; 1958 M.D.
      Complete Obituary from The Sheboygan Press
      Robert worked as an organic chemist at Merck Pharmaceutical prior to attending medical school. He was a charter member of the American Board of Family Medicine and worked at the Sheboygan Clinic until his retirement in 1990. He was a volunteer, loved to travel and enjoyed riding bicycles.
    • George S. Robbins (04/18/1925 – 05/22/2017)
      1951 BS in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Cress Funeral Service
      George was a chemist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more than four decades. He loved to travel, spend time outside and ride his bike.
    • Harry John Krall (09/29/1924 – 07/24/2017)
      1951 MS in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (New York)
      Harry served in the U.S. Army during World War II, worked for Eastman Kodak and Memorex and authored six patents for film production methods. He retired in 1990 and spent time traveling.
    • Harold Schick (11/26/2017)
      1951 Ph.D. in Chemistry
    • Robert Harris (08/19/2017)
      1951 Ph.D. in Chemistry
  • Class of 1952
    • James Hornig (1929 – 06/12/2017)
      1952 MS in Chemistry; 1955 Ph.D. in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Valley News
      James completed a year of post-doctoral research in Germany, worked for DuPont, then as a professor and dean. He retired in 1997, and worked with the Hanover Planning Board and Hanover Conservancy.
    • Howard Benedict Palmer (07/10/1925 – 01/19/2017)
      1952 Ph.D. in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Koch Funeral Home
      Obituary also available from legacy.com
      Howard served as an electronics technician in the Navy, then attended UW-Madison, and researched at the Naval Research Laboratory under Prof. J. 0. Hirschfelder. He also worked as a teacher, researcher, professor, department head, dean, editor, consultant and musician. He taught and managed 35 graduate students and postdoctoral scholars and published 120 times.
  • Class of 1953
    • Robert Searls (05/06/2017)
      1953 BS in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from The Daily Progress
      Robert served in the U.S. Army, then earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from UC-Berkeley. He worked as a researcher in embryology, a teacher, and retired in 1998.
    • William John Maeck (05/18/1929 – 02/13/2018)
      1953 BS in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from The Post Register
      William majored in chemistry under Dr. Farington Daniels, spent two years in the U.S. Army Chemical Corp in Nevada and worked for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Laboratory. He loved the outdoors, traveling and dog training. He retired in 1984.
  • Class of 1954
    • Richard Steil Berger (10/11/2017)
      1954 MS in Chemistry; 1954 Ph.D. in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from The Greenville News
      Richard served for two years in the pharmaceutical chemistry branch of the U.S. Army,worked for Shell Oil and Phillips Fibers Corp. He volunteered with Alliance for Quality Education, Greenville Faith Communities United, and Character Matters.
  • Class of 1955
    • Maurice Shamma (02/24/2018)
      1955 Ph.D. in Chemistry
  • Class of 1956
    • Willis Waite (04/7/1925 – 10/05/2017)
      1956 MA in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Logan Herald Journal
      Willis received his BA from Brigham Young University in 1947, MA from UW-Madison in 1956, and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1966.
  • Class of 1957
    • Kenneth Schulz (02/18/2018)
      1957 BS in Chemistry
    • Russell Kriese (03/03/2017)
      1957 BS in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
      Russell was a member of the American Chemical Society, research chemist in metals and mining, and an Avon Products Quality Control Engineer.
    • Thomas Clarence Ehlert (07/01/1931 – 11/06/2017)
      1957 BS in Chemistry; 1958 MS in Chemistry; 1963 Ph.D. in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal
      Thomas served in the U.S. Army as a guided missile maintenance specialist. He later became a chemist and professor, who identified the melting point of Uranium Dioxide. He loved genealogy, history, volunteering.
    • Richard Charles Gueldner (04/10/2017)
      1957 BS in Chemistry
      Richard earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Iowa, worked at G.D. Searle, General Electric, for the USDA, and with Johnson and Johnson. His work helped control the cotton destroying boll weevil and protect corn and tobacco crops. He earned patents and published numerous papers. He loved to travel, fish, farm, listen to music and admire art.
    • Shirley Bach (11/22/1931 – 02/13 /2018)
      1957 Ph.D. in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Kalamazoo Gazette
      Shirley was a chemist with an interest in medical ethics, which she taught at Western Michigan University. She helped plan WMU’s Homer Stryker School of Medicine in Kalamazoo. She loved to travel and enjoy music.
  • Class of 1961
    • Kenneth Edmund Dempsky (02/18/2018)
      1961 BS in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from The News Times
      Kenneth worked at SC Johnson, Hercules, Ciba-Energy, Reichhold Chemicals and his company, K&S Industries. Ken loved to fish and ski.
    • Howard William Whitlock (05/02/1936 – 01/27/2017)
      1961 Ph.D. in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Cress Funeral Home
      Howard studied under Professor William S. Johnson, writing his thesis, Approaches to the Synthesis of the Alkaloid Veratramine. He worked in research, publishing more than 90 times, taught, and worked on computerized organic synthesis. He enjoyed nature, biking, camping, canoeing, gardening, woodworking, and helping preserve Kettle Pond Conservation Park.
  • Class of 1962
    • Marian (Mira) Elez (06/19/2017)
      1962 BS in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
      Mira lived her entire life with an internal positive light and the selfless goal of bringing joy to the lives of others.
    • Donna Seiler Estry (11/12/2017)
      1962 BS in Chemistry; 1963 MS in Library & Information Studies
      Complete Obituary from the Green Bay Press Gazette
      Donna loved science, Sunday School, reading, travel and music. She served as head of Kimberly-Clark’s Research and Engineering Library and Ford Motor Research Library.
    • James Gross (01/09/2017)
      1962 MS in Chemistry
  • Class of 1964
    • Phil Kammerer (04/25/1942 – 04/15/2017)
      1964 BS in Chemistry; 1967 MS in Civil & Environmental Engineering
      Complete Obituary from Cress Funeral Home
      Phil loved the outdoors, hiking, boating, biking, rowing, travel, volunteering, and cooking. He worked as a water chemist with the USGS.
  • Class of 1965
    • Ching-Yuan Tseng (04/06/2017)
      1965 Ph.D. in Chemistry
  • Class of 1966
    • Edwin Ed Vedejs (01/31/1941 – 12/02/2017)
      Ph.D. in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Cress Funeral Homes
      Ed was an organic chemistry professor at UW-Madison and UM-Ann Arbor, who published and edited hundreds of papers and books. He received the Moses Gomberg Collegiate Professor of Chemistry Chair, and the Edwin Vedejs Collegiate Professor of Chemistry Chair was established in his honor. He won numerous awards, fellowships, and honors. He played classical guitar, loved nature, skiing, camping, biking, and traveling.
    • John Bade (08/30/1944 – 04/08/2017)
      1966 BS in Chemistry; 1967 MS in Materials Science and Engineering
      Complete Obituary from Madison.com
      John worked for Bock Laboratories as senior facilities engineer for 37 years. He enjoyed restoring old cars, Packers games, gardening, and rescue pets.
  • Class of 1967
    • Jeffrey Paul Davis, MD (08/22/1945 – 01/16/2018)
      BS in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Channel 3000
      Jeff served as Chief Medical Officer for Communicable Diseases, as Wisconsin State Epidemiologist, and as Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics and Population Health Sciences at the UW-School of Medicine and Public Health. He worked to improve public health, identifying toxic shock syndrome, lyme disease, a Cryptosporidium outbreak, and other public health issues in the state. Jeff loved sports, music, travel and his dog, Bodhi.
  • Class of 1973
    • Michael Thomas Elliott (02/21/1951 – 01/12/2017)
      1973 BS in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from IndyStar
      Mike loved to volunteer and bicycle.
  • Class of 1985
    • Daniel Turluck (03/08/1958 – 06/26/2017)
      1985 BS in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Legacy.com
      Daniel worked as a Pharmaceutical Research Chemist, most recently at MPI Research, Inc. of Mattawan, MI. He loved home improvement, sports, and craft beer.
  • Class of 1988
    • George William Headley (08/08/1963 – 11/20/2017)
      1988 MS in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from Madison.com
      George was a software engineer, businessman, and conservationist who was deeply loved by his family and friends.
    • Marietta Haeg Schwartz (09/22/1961 – 09/06/2017)
      1988 Ph.D. in Chemistry
      Complete Obituary from the Boston Globe
      Marietta worked at the University of Massachusetts-Boston as an assistant professor in the chemistry department, director of the Student Services Center,  as associate dean in the College of Science and Math, and as co-director of the UTeach Program. She loved chemistry and believed in supporting women in learning the discipline. She was an avid reader, fan of sports, and an active volunteer who cared about the well-being of others.
  • Class of 1997
    • Dafni Amirsakis (07/19/72 – 05/24/2016)
      Complete Obituary from UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
      1997 BS in Chemistry and Psychology
      Dafni was a staff scientist in the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who researched supramolecular chemistry. She was an avid exerciser and a musician, who played several instruments and created four albums.
  • Class of 2009
    • Patrick R. Menden (03/17/1985 – 10/24/2017)
      2009 BS in Chemistry; 2009 BS in Biochemistry; 2013 MS in Cancer Biology
      Complete Obituary from the Herald Times Reporter
      Patrick worked in cancer research and at the Interstate Blood Bank. He served in the Wisconsin Army National Guard and in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He loved to cook, play games, and spend time with his wife, Sara.
  • Department of Chemistry Faculty & Staff
    • Irving Shain (03/06/2018)
      1952 Joined UW-Madison Department of Chemistry as faculty
      1967 Chair Department of Chemistry
      1970 Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UW-Madison
      1977 Chancellor of UW-Madison
      1987 Retired from UW-Madison
      Complete Obituary from the Cress Funeral Service
      Irving earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Washington. He was an avid researcher and understood the importance of science. He was instrumental in the development of many programs at the university and the Department of Chemistry. The Department of Chemistry’s 2006 building addition bears his name, as does an endowed chair, offered by family and friends in 2016. He also worked as vice president of Research and Development and a member of the Board of Directors for Olin Corporation. He loved to read, travel and enjoy classical music. Memorial donations can be made to the University of Wisconsin Foundation 1848 University Avenue, Madison WI 53726, or online here, to support the Irv Shain Memorial Fund for Chemistry. All donations support the new Chemistry Department Building Fund, a project that is critical for UW-Madison.
  • Department of Chemistry Friends
    • Harold F. Deutsch (09/02/1918 – 06/12/2017)
      Complete Obituary from Madison.com
      Harold, a supporter and friend of the Department of Chemistry, received his bachelor’s degree at UW-Madison in bacteriology in 1940 and his Ph.D. from the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 1944 in physiology and physiological chemistry. He studied blood plasma proteins with the Office of Naval Research, was a professor at the UW-Madison Medical School and worked in the Department of Physiological Chemistry (now Molecular Biology).
    • Margret (Maggie) J. Geselbracht (09/11/2014)
      UW-Madison Department of Chemistry Postdoc until 1992
      Complete Obituary from Reed College
      Maggie attended Notre Dame and Berkeley, worked as a postdoc in the Department of Chemistry at UW-Madison and eventually landed at Reed College, where she was the first woman to receive tenure in her department. She published on materials science’s relation to general chemistry curriculum and mentored many women in chemistry. She was the first professor at her college to receive an NSF career grant. She loved to mentor students, helping them present at ACS. She also enjoyed playing the piano, cooking, hiking with her dogs, and quilting.
    • Bruce Swanson (09/23/1943 – 03/02/2018)
      Complete Obituary from Channel 3000
      Bruce attended a UW-Madison graduate program to become a high school chemistry teacher, then taught for decades. He loved sports, the  daily crossword, and time with friends and family.