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In Memoriam: Professor Jim Brewster



Our colleague, Emeritus Professor James H. Brewster passed away Sunday, October 4, 2020 at Franciscan Health Lafayette East Hospital.

Jim was born August 21, 1922 in Fort Collins, Colorado. He described his early years as, "born in the blue-mountain state of Colorado, raised among the sage foothills of Wyoming and on the banks of the great Missouri, and grown to young manhood among the low hills of Connecticut."

Jim graduated from Cornell University in 1942 with a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry. He obtained his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Illinois in 1947 and then spent a postdoctoral year at the University of Chicago.

Jim worked in our department from 1949-1991 and chaired the Faculty Senate in his final year before retirement. He authored many professional papers and book chapters in the field of Organic Stereochemistry showing the concept of conformational chirality to be useful in interpreting optical rotatory power. This concept was useful in the development of pharmaceuticals and put into practice through his consulting with Eli Lilly. Jim especially enjoyed teaching first-year chemistry.

In 1953, Jim met Christine "Chris" Germain, who had come to Purdue on a postdoctoral fellowship in the Chemistry Department. They were married on January 23, 1954. Both Jim and Chris were active participants in the life of the community and University. Both music-lovers, they were long-time season ticket holders to the Lafayette Symphony. Jim was one of the founders of the Fellowship that became the Unitarian Universalist Church in West Lafayette. He was a long-time member of the church, and in 1978 became a lay minister and officiated at the weddings of friends and family. He was also a member of the Indiana Native Plant Society and the American Chemical Society.

Throughout his life, Jim enjoyed travel, camping, hiking, nature photography, researching family history, and painting, especially acrylic and oils. After his retirement, Jim took painting classes, and Jim & Chris traveled abroad to the British Isles, New Zealand, Hawaii and Iceland.

A memorial service will be held at a date to be determined at University Place, 1700 Lindberg Rd, West Lafayette, 47906.

Listen to Jim's 2008 oral history in the Purdue Archives and Special Collections