Dr. Richard W. Neithamer
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry
1930 - 2002
Dr. Richard "Dick" Neithamer, Professor Emeritus in the chemistry department at Eckerd College, passed away on February 16, 2002. As someone who worked at Eckerd from 1964 until 1991, and who maintained ties up until his death, Dick knew more about the department's evolution than anyone else. He was our link to the college's first classes in the early 1960's.
During his Eckerd years Dick Neithamer taught almost every chemistry course at one time or another. One semester he even taught five laboratory sections for our students, as opposed to telling students that our general chemistry course was filled. He was also active in supervising senior research projects and in interdisciplinary work. His administrative duties included stints as chair of our department and of the Natural Science Collegium (Division), and a turn as Director of Eckerd's London Study Centre.
By the time I arrived at Eckerd College (1978), Dick was becoming interested in a new area of science, mineralogy. He designed a mineralogy Winter Term project for our students and introduced mineralogical topics into our Advanced Inorganic Chemistry course. Actually it may have been the faculty who needed instruction. Dick once announced that he was going to a Tucson mineral show. I well recall a quick geology lesson when I referred to it casually as a "rock show."
Most current Eckerd chemistry students probably never met Dick Neithamer, but his influence is present in many ways. It was Dick who sought, or rather fought for, American Chemical Society certification for our program, finally getting it in 1984. Chemistry still stands as one of the few Eckerd departments where graduates can receive outside certification for their Eckerd degree. Dick Neithamer also designed the B.A. degree for our chemistry program. It was Dick who began using bound notebooks in our lab courses, adding a strong writing component into even beginning chemistry classes. And it was Dick who recruited four of the current faculty (Guida, Hudson, Soli, and Grove), and who encouraged them to be innovative in teaching, active in research, and persistent in writing proposals.
I could write a great deal concerning my own interactions with Dick Neithamer, but I'll simply add two more comments. First, Dick was the best freshman chemistry lab instructor I have ever seen. Case closed. Second, in 1984 Dick encouraged me to apply for a research program with NASA. I did, and I've been collaborating with NASA scientists ever since. It has been an enriching, productive experience for me, taking me coast-to-coast and overseas.
Given below is Dick's obituary which appeared last week in the St. Petersburg Times. In no way does it adequately convey Dick's work with Eckerd College, his dedication to Eckerd's goals, and his love of science and teaching. -- Thanks for all your hard work, Dick. We'll miss you.
- Reggie L. Hudson, Professor of Chemistry, 2/25/2002
The following information appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on February 19, 2002:
NEITHAMER, DR. RICHARD WALTER, 72, of St. Petersburg, died Saturday (Feb. 16, 2002) at home. Born in Wesleyville, Pa., he came here in 1964 from Terre Haute, Ind. He retired in 1991 as a chemistry professor at Eckerd College. He earlier taught at Lebanon Valley College, East Texas State University and Rose-Hulman Institute. He was a member of the board of trustees of First Presbyterian Church and Suncoast Manor Foundation and the board of directors of the St. Petersburg Boy's Choir. He also was a member of technical advisory committees for the St. Petersburg Department of Public Works, the Clean Air Coalition, the St. Petersburg Science Center and Region VIII of the state Energy Action Committee. He received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Allegheny College and a doctorate from Indiana University. He was a Mason and a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, Phi Lamda Upsilon, Society of Sigma Xi, American Chemical Society, American Association of University Professors and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was a fellow of the American Institute of Chemists. He was listed in American Men of Science, Who's Who in American Education, Who's Who in the South & Southwest, Leaders in American Science and the Dictionary of International Biography. Survivors include his wife of 44 years, Jeanette Burton Neithamer; a son, Dr. David R. Neithamer, Midland, Mich.; and three grandchildren. [Tammy Mason-Anderson]