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Kenneth William Greenlee (1916-2003).

Kenneth William Greenlee, age 87, former director of the Hydrocarbon Research Project at The Ohio State University (OSU), and past president of Chemical Samples Company in Columbus, OH, died 1 December 2003 in Valparaiso, IN. As a lecturer for 21 years in the Department of Chemistry at OSU, he directed an outstanding research program involved in the advancement of refining petroleum. For his many years as an active member in the American Chemical Society, Kenneth W. Greenlee was honored in 1988 with an award for outstanding achievement and promotion of the chemical sciences. As a member of The Ohio Academy of Science since 1960, he affiliated with the Section Chemistry and was designated an Emeritus member in 1994.

Born 23 January 1916 in Leon, Mason County, WV, Kenneth William Greenlee, the son of Roy E. and Lola E. (Woodall) Greenlee, received his elementary education in the same town. He then relocated to Charleston, WV, where he graduated from Charleston High School and then entered Kanawha Junior College (now Morris-Harvey University), and while there for two years, Kenneth edited the Kanawha Collegian, and graduated with honors in 1935. With a scholarship subsidy, Kenneth then came to Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH, where for three years he participated in their work-study program. He was involved in a cooperative plan for part-time training in industry and served for one year as a student trainee in chemistry in the Electrochemicals Department of the DuPont Company, Niagara Falls, NY. Kenneth was granted the B.S. degree with distinction in chemistry from Antioch College in 1938. In the fall of the same year, he entered the Graduate School of The Ohio State University and held the positions of Graduate Assistant (1938-1941) and Research Fellow (1941-1942) in the Department of Chemistry while completing the requirements for the Ph.D. degree. He was granted the Ph.D. degree in 1942; the subject of his dissertation being, "Reactions of Sodium Derivatives of Unsaturated Aliphatic Hydrocarbons," completed under his advisor, Albert L. Henne.

While a graduate student, Greenlee joined the University's Hydrocarbon Research Laboratory founded in 1938 by Professor Cecil E. Boord. In 1942, Doctor Greenlee entered into research on the synthesis and purification of hydrocarbons, in the capacity of Assistant to the Supervisor of the American Petroleum Institute Research Project in the Department of Chemistry and the Research Foundation of The Ohio State University. In the following year he was advanced to the position of Associate Supervisor with the same project and, in 1951, was given additional responsibilities as Associate Supervisor of a USAF-sponsored project on the mechanism of oxidation of hydrocarbons, which continued to June 1958. In July 1957, he undertook a new project on "synthetic natural rubber" for the Goodyear Company, helping to develop a process for which a multi-million dollar plant was constructed. With the retirement of Professor Boord in 1959, Greenlee was named Director and took full charge of the Goodyear Project and the American Petroleum Institute Project, which continued unabated until 1963. He held the title of Lecturer in the OSU Department of Chemistry, which required no classroom duties and permitted him to devote full-time to the research projects.

While at The Ohio State University, Dr. Greenlee's primary research program involved the advancement of petroleum refining, which had both theoretical and practical aspects. Among the latter was developing the chemical mechanism of combustion and procedures for attaining the highest yield of 100 octane fuel from crude oil. During World War II, this program was classified as secret. Later, the project was given a citation for helping to "win the war in the air."

In 1963, the Hydrocarbon Laboratory was "phased out" by decision of a Chemistry Department faculty committee in favor of "activities more suitable to a great university." At the time the Laboratory was supported with contributions of nearly two million dollars by the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., and Columbia Organic Chemicals Co. The API component transferred its project to Oklahoma State University and offered Greenlee an associate professorship to continue directing the project and to supervise graduate student research, but he declined because he wanted to remain in Columbus.

Greenlee and his associate Vincent G. Wiley from the former Hydrocarbon Laboratory created their own company, Chemical Samples Company, with Greenlee as President. They constructed a six-building complex on Kenny Road near OSU and the Battelle Memorial Institute, where they had 15-20 employees. The company became a major producer of specialty hydrocarbons, including pheromones, one of which was an insect sex attractant. Those high purity chemicals were packaged in convenient units and shipped to researchers throughout the world. Greenlee and Wiley were chiefly responsible for the Goodyear project that led to the development of natural rubber's synthetic equivalent, "Natyn." In 1978 the company was acquired by Albany International Corporation, and Greenlee, as a Vice-President for Scientific Affairs, remained in the New Chemicals Division until his retirement a few years later. Greenlee's publications total 28 scientific papers, mostly in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and co-authored primarily with W. C. Femelius, A. L. Henne, and C. H. Boord.

A member of the American Chemical Society since 1941, Dr. Greenlee became active in the Columbus Section of the Society in September 1951, when he was chairman of a committee to provide hospitality, a program of conferences, and tours for a group of 50 visiting foreign chemists. He was the co-founder and editor of the Section's news bulletin, The Chemical Record (1953), and served as Treasurer (1952-1953) and Chairman of the Section (1955-1956). Greenlee established the Division of Small Chemical Businesses (1980) and was its first chairman and editor of its newsletter, Small Chem Biz News. He was elected a member of Sigma Xi (1942), and was president of the Columbus Chapter of the American Rocket Society (1960). His listed hobbies were photography, gardening, woodcraft, and handball.

On 14 December 1947, Kenneth William Greenlee married Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Boord in Columbus, OH, where both were members of the Overbrook Presbyterian Church. After 53 years of marriage, Mrs. Greenlee died in 2001. Their surviving children are Sarah Anne (Sally) married to Adam Holterhoff of Valparaiso, IN; William John of Teaneck, NJ; and Mark Leroy of Plainfield, NJ. Both sons are married and graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees in Chemistry from OSU, and both earned their Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University. Other survivors are his brother Roy Greenlee of St. Louis, MO; five grandchildren and several cousins, nieces, and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and two sisters, Grace Greenlee Newton and Leslie Greenlee Jeanson.

The funeral service was held on 5 December 2003 at the First United Methodist Church in Valparaiso with the Rev. Rhonda Kruse officiating. A memorial service was conducted in Columbus the following morning at the Overbrook Presbyterian Church, with burial in Union Cemetery, Columbus. Memorials may be made to Visiting Nurse Association Foundation (Hospice) of Porter County, 501 Marquette Street, Valparaiso, IN 46383, or to the International Rescue Committee, P.O. Box 5058, Hagerstown, MD 21741. The Moeller Funeral Home, Valparaiso, IN, conducted the arrangements and can be contacted at angelcrestinc.com.
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Title Annotation:Necrology
Author:Stuckey, Ronald L.
Publication:The Ohio Journal of Science
Article Type:Biography
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:1193
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