The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


September 19, 2008

Chemical society marks half-century

NORTHUMBERLAND -- Joseph Priestley re-enactor Ronald Blatchley discovering oxygen and carbon dioxide in water and tours of the Priestley House marked the 50th anniversary celebration of the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society.

The society, a nonprofit scientific and educational association of professional chemists and chemical engineers, held the special event Saturday. The group sponsored the restoration of Priestley's laboratory in his house in Northumberland, which was dedicated in 1976, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American Chemical Society.

Among those attending the half-century observance was George Hazen, a charter member and first secretary of the Susquehanna Valley Section. Now living in New Jersey, he is retired from Merck & Co., now Cherokee Pharmaceuticals.

Attila Pavlath, of California, past president of the American Chemical Society, also attended. Ronald Supkowski, a chemistry professor at King's College, serves as the local society chairman.

Celebration committee members were Chairman Bill VandenHeuvel, of Lewisburg, a retired Merck & Co. chemist; Blatchley, of New Berlin, a retired high school chemistry teacher; DeeAnn Casteel, a Bucknell University chemistry professor and dean; Bill Simpson, of Lewisburg, who is retired from Kodak Research; and Ben Willeford, a retired Bucknell chemistry professor.

Other section officers include Casteel, past chairman and councilor; Robert Ritter, of Cherokee Pharmaceuticals, secretary; Christopher Hallen, of Bloomsburg University, treasurer; and Blatchley, alternate councilor.

Several past chairmen received certificates of appreciation from Pavlath, who spoke about the importance of local sections serving as liaisons between the public and the chemical society. Willeford gave the history of the section with Hazen adding first-hand knowledge. Supkowski spoke on the section's accomplishments.

Amanda Kessler, president of the Friends of the Priestley House, discussed plans for the historic property. Andrea Bashore, house director, welcomed the group.

The first meeting of the section was held Nov. 5, 1958, in Danville. The first program involved six members: Robert Cain, of Wise Potato Chips; John Day, of Merck; Harry Dooly, of U.S. Radium Corp.; Herbert Fineberg, of Glyco Products; George Reed, of American Car and Foundry; and George Weinbaum, of Geisinger Medical Center.

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