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Inspiring leader and teacher was also a respected polymer chemist


Chemical & Engineering News (11/07/2003)
By Linda Raber
Photo by Susan Morrussey

Stanley C. Israel, American Chemical Society director-at-large, died suddenly of a heart attack on Nov. 2. He was 60.

Sonja and Stanley Israel at a recent ACS event.“Stan was an energetic, inspiring leader for our society and a well-respected polymer chemist. His untimely passing leaves a big void at ACS as well as at Texas State University, San Marcos, where he was dean of the College of Science,” says Peter J. Stang, professor of chemistry at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Israel received a B.S. degree in chemistry from Parsons College/University of Iowa, Fairfield, in 1965 and a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from Lowell Technological Institute, Lowell, Mass., in 1970. He began his professional career in 1968 at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, where he stayed for the next 29 years. He served as head of the chemistry department from 1992 to 1997. He then became dean of the College of Science at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) in 1997.

Israel’s recent research efforts included pioneering the techniques of direct pyrolysis-chemical ionization mass spectrometry to study the reactions and mechanisms of thermal decomposition of polymers, the identification and characterization of materials by high-temperature pyrolysis, and surface characterization of fibers by laser contact angle goniometry. In addition, Israel cofounded Optimers Inc., Lowell, which licenses a family of soft contact lens materials to Bausch & Lomb, and Rochal Industries, Boca Raton, Fla., which licensed wound dressing materials to 3M.

Israel began his service on the ACS Board in 2001. At the time of his death, he was chair of the ACS Committee on Grants & Awards and was a member of the executive committee of the Board. He also served as chair of the ACS Board Task Force on Minorities in Academia. Board Chair Nina I. McClelland tells C&EN that, “whatever the issue, Stan always led the debate. He advocated for research and education and campaigned for equality and diversity. He was at the core of all of our board’s current issues. He will be succeeded on the board but not replaced.” A special election will be held; details will be in a forthcoming issue of C&EN.

Israel was very active in the ACS Division of Polymer Chemistry, serving as its chair in 1989, and had served as the editor of the division’s Polymer Preprints since 2000. He was a founder of the division’s POLYED education committee.

Israel is survived by Sonja, his wife of 37 years, their son Aaron, four grandchildren, his mother, and a sister. The family has asked that memorial donations be made to the Stanley C. Israel Memorial Fund in care of the Texas State University Development Foundation, 601 University Dr., San Marcos, TX 78666.