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June 22 2007


Cheves Walling Dies At 91

Former JACS editor served industry, academia, and ACS

Susan J. Ainsworth

Cheves T. Walling, an accomplished organic chemist, expert in free-radical chemistry, and former editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), died on June 18. He was 91.

Walling played a key role in the growth and development of chemistry at the University of Utah, retiring from there as a distinguished professor emeritus of chemistry. "Walling was one of the grand old men of chemistry, with a wry wit and an affable disposition," notes Peter B. Armentrout, Utah's current chemistry chair.

Born in Evanston, Ill., Walling studied chemistry at the undergraduate level at Harvard University, receiving his B.A. degree in 1937. He went on to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1939, carrying out his research under the direction of Morris S. Kharasch.

Walling started his career as a research chemist at DuPont's Jackson Laboratories in Deepwater Point, N.J. From 1943 until 1949, he worked for the U.S. Rubber Co., taking leave in 1945 and 1946 to serve as a technical aide in the Office of Scientific Research & Development, a government agency created to coordinate research for military purposes during World War II. Walling left U.S. Rubber in 1949 to join the research division of Lever Brothers Co.

In 1952, he began his academic research career as a professor of chemistry at Columbia University; he served as department chairman from 1963 to 1966. Walling left in 1970 to become a distinguished professor of chemistry at the University of Utah, where he served his tenure as the 10th editor of JACS from 1975 until 1981. He retired in 1991.

An emeritus member, Walling joined ACS in 1936. He was also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He served on the advisory board of the ACS Petroleum Research Fund, the board of directors of the Gordon Research Conferences, the executive committee of the organic division of the editorial board of JACS, and as chairman of the Division of Chemistry & Chemical Engineering of the National Research Council. From 1966 until 1973, he was chairman of the ACS Committee on Professional Training.

Walling received many awards, including the James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry from ACS, the Alumni Medal from the University of Chicago Alumni Association, the Utah Award of the ACS Salt Lake Section, and the ACS Award in Petroleum Chemistry. He published more than 190 papers in the fields of physical organic chemistry, reaction mechanisms in organic chemistry, and free-radical reactions. He was the author of a classic monograph on free-radical reactions, "Free Radicals in Solution," published in 1957, and his autobiography, "Fifty Years of Free Radicals," was published in 1995.

Ronald Breslow, University Professor of chemistry and biology at Columbia, remembers Walling as "a wonderful mentor, a first-rate physical organic chemist, and a warm and colorful character who was held in great affection by all his Columbia colleagues."

Walling is survived by his wife, Jane, one son, and four daughters.

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