Dr. Bryce Low Crawford, Jr. | 1914 - 2011 | Obituary

Dr. Bryce Low Crawford, Jr.
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Dr. Bryce Low Crawford, Jr.

Born: November 27, 1914
Died: September 16, 2011

Age 96, of St. Anthony Park, died peacefully on Friday, Sept. 16, at Presbyterian Homes of Arden Hills. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 1, at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 2136 Carter Avenue, St. Paul. He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth. Survived by son Bryce, his wife Jane and children Brittany and Chelsea, Kim and Mike; son Craig and children Sloan and McKendree; daughter Sherry, husband Tom Kueny and children Melinda Kurysh and Andy Nelson.
Dr. Crawford was born in New Orleans on Nov. 27, 1914, to Bryce Low Crawford and Clara Hall Crawford. In 1940, he married Ruth Raney in Chicago. They had three children: Bryce L. Crawford III, Craig Crawford and Sherry Crawford.
Among Dr. Crawford’s many accomplishments and involvements, those that meant the most to him included his years as Home Secretary for the National Academy of Sciences and chairmanship of the NAS report review committee. He was also a member of the American Chemical Society, on whose board he served from 1969 to 1972, and chaired the ACS committee on American chemical abstracts.
Dr. Crawford grew up mostly in the San Francisco Bay region, and also El Paso, TX. His college and university years were spent at Stanford University, where he received his A.B. in 1934; his A.M. in 1935; and his PhD in chemistry in 1937. He then spent two years at Harvard University as a National Research Fellow working in the laboratories of Prof. Bright Wilson, Jr. He also spent a year at Yale University as a chemistry instructor. In 1940, he moved to the chemistry department at the University of Minnesota, where he served as an assistant professor of physical chemistry and became a full professor in 1946. He also chaired the U of M chemistry department from 1955 to 1960 and was dean of the graduate school from 1960 to 1972. In 1982, the ACS chose to honor Dr. Crawford with the Priestley Medal, its most prestigious award, in recognition of his many contributions to chemistry.
Honors he was most proud of included being named in 2004 as a Fellow of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy for his contributions to the advancement of spectroscopy and its applications. He loved studying molecular vibrations and force constants, and the experimental side of molecular spectroscopy. Working with chemical abstracts, he found a labor of love in chairing an ACS committee on such abstracts.
Dr. Crawford also became an active, and leading, member of the National Academy of Science, where he served as Home Secretary and chaired the NAS report review committee, to which he was quite dedicated. The committee’s work was to see that scientific findings and reports it released were thorough, objective and complete.
During World War II, Dr. Crawford worked in research on rocket propellants, carrying out research in his own laboratories at Minnesota and the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in Cumberland, Maryland. His work was a significant contribution to World War II rocketry, and to the development of solid propellants for the much larger rockets that evolved after the war.
But, his first love was always chemistry. His focus and interest centered on molecular spectroscopy and molecular structure.
In 1950-51, he spent time at the California Institute of Technology and at Oxford University, as a Guggenheim Fellow and as a Fulbright Fellow at Oxford. He was a Fulbright scholar in Japan in 1966.
His memberships in work-related associations are too numerous to list, but they included serving as chairman of the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science and as a member of the Science Development Advisory Panel of the National Science Foundation. He held the distinction of membership in all three honorary science academies: the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Dr. Crawford was an avid and knowledgeable fan of Sherlock Holmes and a founding member of the Norwegian Explorers Club, the Minnesota Scion Society.
His youth was remarkable as well. He skipped several grades, quickly advancing his education. He was the youngest student to graduate from El Paso High School when he was 15. In 1931, representing the state of Texas, he won first place and $500 in the National Edison chemistry essay contest. He was flown to Menlo Park, N. J., for his award, where he met Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. As a teenager, Dr. Crawford spent summers working as a ranch hand on Jimmy Mayhill’s ranch in the hills of Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Dr. Crawford’s sense of humor never flagged. One of his favorite pastimes was to burst into song at gatherings, entertaining his family and friends with his remarkable high school song, Old El Paso High. He was also fond of Glenlivet scotch.
In addition to being a renowned scientist, Crawford loved literature and the beauty of the English language. He and wife Ruth were avid supporters of the Twin Cities cultural arts.
The family requests any memorials to be directed to the Saint Anthony Park Area Seniors Program, 2200 Hillside Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108, email sapbnp@mcg.net

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