Faculty member James N. Butler passes away at 78
November 08, 2012
Appointed as Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Chemistry, he taught at Harvard for 30 years; Memorial service will be held on November 10
QUEENSBURY - Dr. James Newton Butler, 78, died peacefully at home on October 22, 2012 with his loving family by his side.
Born March 27, 1934 in Lakewood OH, he was the son of the late Clyde H. and Margaret (Manor) Butler. Jim graduated from Lakewood High School in Lakewood OH in 1951; earned his B.Sc. in Chemistry and Mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy NY in 1955; and his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from Harvard University in Cambridge MA in 1959. He married Nancy Close in 1957; the marriage ended in divorce. In 1966 he married Rosamond (Roz) Hatch in Wayland MA.
Jim was a Staff Scientist at the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics in the summers of 1952-57 and at the Lincoln Laboratories, M.I.T. in 1958. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University the summer of 1959. He became Instructor of Chemistry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver from 1959-61 and Assistant Professor of Chemistry from 1961-63. He was then employed by Tyco Laboratories, Inc, in Waltham MA as a Senior Scientist from 1963-66, serving as Head of the Physical Chemistry Department from 1966-71. In 1971 he was appointed Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Chemistry at Harvard University where he taught for 30 years. Jim was particularly beloved by the students in his freshman seminar on environmental quality, many of who became life-long friends. After his retirement from Harvard in 2000, he and Roz moved to Queensbury NY to be nearer to their children and grandchildren and their beloved Lake George.
Jim served as Trustee and Scientific Investigator at the Bermuda Biological Station for Research (BIOS) for 35 years, serving as President from 1986-89. He was honored as a Life Trustee in 1997. Jim was awarded numerous honors over the years, and was sought after for his expertise on a consulting basis. He authored and co-authored 13 publications and over 80 peer- reviewed scientific papers. He was best known for his 1964 book “Ionic Equilibrium” and for his work on pelagic tar in the North Atlantic Ocean and Sargasso Sea.
In 1977 he was a guest lecturer on the Lindblad Explorer in Antarctica, which led to a lifetime of adventure travel and exploration especially in the arctic regions.
He was a gifted folksinger and guitar player and could remember the words to thousands of folksongs and ballads that he learned over the years. And like his father, he was a very talented photographer.
Jim is survived by his devoted and beloved wife, Rosamond (Hatch) Butler of 46 years; and his children, Christopher James Butler and his wife, Sandra, of Snohomish WA; Alden G. Bee of Essex Junction VT; Kenneth M. Bee and his wife, Kathy, of Queensbury NY; four grandchildren who he adored, Mikaela and Jennifer Bee of Queensbury NY and Nathan and Jeffrey Bee of Essex Junction VT; his cat and bed mate, Missy; his extended and loving Crown Island family; and many, many wonderful friends.
Jim’s family extends its heartfelt thanks to his physician, Dr. David J. Cunningham of Irongate Family Practice and the health care professionals (April, Joyce, Ellen, and Nicole, PT) who lovingly cared for him over the last year, as well to the compassionate staff from Glens Falls Hospital 3West and High Peaks Hospice.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Jim’s honor may be made to the Fund for Lake George, PO Box 352, Lake George, NY 12845, the Lake George Land Conservancy, 4905 Lakeshore Drive, Bolton Landing NY 12814 or the Lakewood Historical Society, 14710 Lake Avenue, Lakewood OH 44107.
A memorial service will be held for Dr James Newton Butler at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, November 10, 2012 at the Harrisena Community Church, 1616 Ridge Road, Queensbury NY
[Obituary adapted from PostStar.com]