Mount Vernon News

Mount Vernon News
March 10, 2012 9:31 am EST


BRANFORD, Conn. — Owen York Jr., H’93, professor emeritus of chemistry and a Kenyon College statesman, died Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011, at his home in Branford, Conn. He was 84 years old.

Owen and Bettye, his wife of 63 years, were central to the academic and social life of the college. He joined the faculty in 1961, served as Assistant Provost in the 1989-90 academic year and retired in 1993, returning as Acting Provost for the 1995-96 academic year.

A native of Evansville, Ind., Owen spent the year after his high-school graduation as an aviation cadet in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He left the service to pursue higher education, earning a doctorate in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois. Owen worked in both the corporate world, at Hercules Inc. and W.R. Grace and Company, as well as in academics, as Assistant Professor at Illinois Wesleyan University, before joining the faculty at Kenyon. Along the way, he won several U.S. patents, including those for the synthesis of polyesters and the rearrangement of organic acids at high temperatures.

He served as department chairman and a member or chairman of numerous committees. He led the Curriculum Committee during the planning for and implementation of coeducation, and oversaw the planning and construction of many important buildings on campus including the Tomsich Hall for chemistry. The Owen York Jr. Lecture Hall (Tomsich 101) is named in his honor.

Owen is survived by his wife, who worked for the college from 1973 to 1992, retiring as associate director of admissions. In May 1996, the popular couple was presented with the Alumni Council’s Thomas B. and Mary M. Greenslade Award in recognition of decades of continuing relationships with generations of former students.

In addition to Bettye, he is survived by his son, Michael; daughters, Diane Linderman and Linda Hope; and two grandsons.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 17, at 2 p.m. in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Gambier. Memorial donations in memory of Dr. Owen York may be sent to: Office of Development, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH 43022.

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