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December 11, 2006
Volume 84, Number 50
p. 13


Robert Parry Dies at 89

Former ACS president mentored students, studied boron, and founded an ACS journal

Rachel Petkewich

Robert W. Parry, 89, distinguished professor of chemistry, emeritus, at the University of Utah, died on Dec. 1 from a stroke suffered on Nov. 23.

Colleagues describe the inorganic chemist's 60-year career as combining excellence in education, research, service to the American Chemical Society, and advancement of the profession.

"Parry was a true scholar and a gentleman," says Peter B. Armentrout, Utah's current chemistry chair. "A real class act."

Terry D. Newfarmer

"Together with Henry Eyring and Cheves Walling, Parry played a key role in the growth and development of chemistry at Utah," says Peter Stang, who is also a professor there as well as editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Born and raised in Utah, Parry graduated with a B.S. in soil chemistry in 1940 from Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University). He received a master's degree in soil science from Cornell University in 1942 and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Illinois in 1946.

Later that year, Parry joined the chemistry department at the University of Michigan, where he became a leader in boron and main-group chemistry. In 1969, he joined the faculty at the University of Utah as a distinguished professor of chemistry. He retired with emeritus status in 1997.

At Michigan and Utah, Parry taught thousands of undergraduates and mentored more than 60 Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows. Together with Henry Taube, Parry edited "Foundations of General Chemistry," a paperback series.

An emeritus member, Parry joined ACS in 1943. He was founding editor (1962-64) of Inorganic Chemistry and served on its editorial board until 1979. He was president of Inorganic Synthesis Inc. (1969-72) and served as an associate editor of JACS (1966-68, 1971-80) and on C&EN's editorial board (1978-83).

Among his extensive activities within ACS governance, Parry served as an ACS councilor for more than 40 years, on the ACS Board of Directors for a decade, and as president in 1982. Parry was also active in various other organizations related to chemistry such as the Gordon Research Conferences and the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry.

Among Parry's numerous awards is ACS's highest honor, the Priestley Medal (1993). His other awards include the ACS Award for Distinguished Service in Inorganic Chemistry (1965); Manufacturing Chemists Award for Excellence in the Teaching of College Chemistry (1972); Alexander von Humboldt Senior U.S. Scientist Award (1980, 1983); and the first Governor's Medal in Science, State of Utah (1987).

Parry is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marjorie; two sons; and five grandchildren.

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