Dr. Walter H. Stockmayer (1914-2004)

Walter H. Stockmayer, 90, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, died at his home in Norwich, VT, on May 9, 2004. Professor Stockmayer was an internationally known chemist and university teacher for 67 years. He is widely recognized as one of the pioneers in polymer science in the twentieth century. His specific interest was in theory and experiment for the structure and dynamics of polymer molecules, including various uses of the light scattering method.

Growing up in Rutherford, NJ, he graduated from Rutherford High School and received an S.B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1935, where he served as class President. He won a Rhodes scholarship and attended Jesus College of Oxford University (UK) from 1935 to 1937, earning a B.Sc. He returned to MIT, earning his Ph.D. in Chemistry under J. A. Beattie in 1940. During World War II, he contributed to classified war research projects while at Columbia University. He returned again to the MIT faculty after the war, earning a Full Professorship in 1952. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1956.

In 1961, Professor Stockmayer moved to Dartmouth College and twice served as Chairman of the Department of Chemistry during his tenure. Officially retiring in 1979, as Emeritus, he continued to teach and advise Dartmouth undergraduate and graduate students through 2002. He served for more than 20 years as a founding associate editor of Macromolecules, a premier journal of the field published by the American Chemical Society. Professor Stockmayer was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Reagan in 1987.

His contributions in polymer science were recognized nationally and internationally. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was a recipient of the Peter Debye Award, the Manufacturing Chemists Association Teacher of the Year Award, the Stas medal of the Belgian Chemical Society, the Oesper Award of the University of Cincinnati, the Humboldt Senior Scientist Award, the William Proctor Prize of Sigma Xi, and the Polymer Physics Award from the American Chemical Society. He held honorary degrees from Dartmouth College, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and The Université Louis-Pasteur of Strasbourg (FR). He was an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College of Oxford University. At the time of his death he was the only non-German national to receive the Hermann Staudinger Prize from the German Chemical Society, awarded to him in 1999. Professor Stockmayer also performed various consulting activities with E. I. Dupont & Co., American Chicle Co., Humble Oil Co., and the US Army-Piccatiny Arsenal. In partnership with Dutch colleagues R. Koningsveld and E. Nies, he wrote an advanced monograph textbook in 2001, Polymer Phase Diagrams.

His personal interests included mountain climbing, symphony and opera, piano/chamber music, and international travel. He was a life-long member of the Appalachian Mountain Club. He was a member of the Unitarian Church of Norwich. He was an inveterate dog lover. His wife of 64 years, Sylvia, predeceased him in 2002. He leaves two sons, Ralph, of Reading, PA, and Hugh, of Matunuck, RI, and a sister, Marie, of Farmington, CT. He had eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A Memorial Service for Dr. Stockmayer was held at the Rollins Chapel on the campus of Dartmouth College during the afternoon of Friday, October 8, 2004. A reception at the Fairchild Science Center Tower followed the service.

Persons wishing to acknowledge his death may do so by making a donation to the Star Island Association of Portsmouth, NH, a non-profit group that supports the Star Island Conference Center of the Isles of Shoals, NH. Their address is 10 Vaughan Mall, Suite #8, Worth Plaza, Portsmouth, NH 03801.