From an appreciation of Henry A. Hill delivered by
Arno Heyn at the 1991 Hill Award meeting and based
on notes of the late Larry Powell.
|Who was Henry A. Hill? Henry
Hill was Chairman of our Section in 1963. He was very
active in the national ACS, and after being a member
of, and chairman of several of its committees, especially
notably his service on the Professional Relations Committee,
where he drafted the Professional Employment Guidelines.
He was Director of the ACS in 1971-1975 and was elected
in the Fall of 1975 to serve as President-Elect in
1976 and became President in 1977.
|Born in St. Joseph, Missouri
he obtained a bachelor's degree from Johnson C. Smith
University, then a segregated university for "colored" students,
as, they were then called. Because of his excellent
record he was accepted at M.I.T., to study organic
chemistry, and obtained the Ph.D. in 1942 working under
Prof. Robert C. Hockett. He had the highest grades
of the graduate students in his class. While at M.I.T.
he became acquainted with Prof. James Flack Norris
of whom he said:
was the first big man I met who was more interested
in my ability to learn chemistry than in the identity
of my grandparents
|Not being able to obtain
a position in industry because of prevailing discrimination,
he and a few colleagues established a small consulting
business. In 1946 he joined Dewey & Almy Co. as
Research Supervisor and in 1952 he became Vice President
of National Polychemicals which was active in polymer
chemistry. He obtained patents for blowing agents.
|In 1961 he established his
own research and consulting business, "Riverside
Laboratories" to be able to pursue his research
interests and to allow him to participate in ACS activities.
|After his untimely death
in 1979, friends and colleagues in the Northeastern
Section established the Henry A. Hill Award for Outstanding
Service to the Northeastern Section. The first award
was made posthumously to Henry A. Hill in 1980, his
son Anthony C. Hill, then a reporter for WGBH, accepting
the award. Since then, 23 members of this section have
been thus honored and thereby honored the memory of
Henry A. Hill.
By Arnet L. Powell -- From a talk given at the March
1982 meeting of the Northeastern Section on the occasion
of the Third Henry A. Hill Award for Distinguished
Service to the Northeastern Section.
|Dr. Henry A. Hill, the renowned
chemist in whose memory this award was established,
was a former Chairman of the Northeastern Section (1963)
and President of the American Chemical Society in 1977.
Henry's outstanding contributions to chemistry, particularly
industrial chemistry, and to the professional welfare
of chemists are legion but unfortunately only a capsule
review can be given here. Dr. Hill's first concern
and interest was in his fellow humans and this was
the driving force behind all that he did both in the
chemical community and the world at large.
|Henry Hill was a native of
St. Joseph, Missouri. He was a graduate of Johnson
C. Smith University in North Carolina and received
the Ph.D. degree from M.I.T. in 1942, after getting
the highest grades in his class. He began a professional
career in industrial chemistry in that year, working
largely with plastics, polymers, rubbers, adhesives
and foams. In the early 1950's, Henry became on of
the founders of National Polychemicals, Inc., serving
as Vice President of that firm for five years.
|In 1961 Dr. Hill decided
to start a company of his own, feeling strongly that
this was the only way that he could justify his professional
education and fulfill his personal ambitions in life.
He told me in a private conversation at the time that
he wanted to do more than just make a comfortable living
in his chosen field : he wished to develop to the maximum
extent possible his professional knowledge and expertise
and do something worthwhile with it in the private
sector. He founded Riverside Research Laboratory, Inc.
in Cambridge, Mass. On a modest basis and in 1964 moved
to larger quarters in the Haverhill, Massachusetts
Industrial Park. I remember receiving a formal notice
regarding this move in the form of a nicely printed
card which exhibited the characteristic Henry Hill
flair for originality. The card read "Riverside
Research Laboratory is changing rivers: we are moving
from the Charles in Cambridge to the Merrimack in Haverhill." The
firm offered research, development and consulting services
in resins, rubbers, textiles and plastics. Dr. Hill's
clients included companies here and abroad. In the
latter category was the government of Trinidad where
Henry liked to combine business with a winter vacation
in the sun. Riverside Research Laboratory introduced
four successful commercial enterprises, including its
own manufacturing affiliate. Dr. Hill, particularly
after having been appointed by President Lyndon Johnson
to the National Commission on Product Safety, became
active in research and testing programs in the field
of product flammability and product safety.
|The American Chemical Society
was always very close to Henry Hill's heart. His active
career with the ACS began in the middle nineteen fifties
in the Northeastern Section. He credited Edward R.
Atkinson, the 1956 Chairman, as starting him on the
road to the presidency of the American Chemical Society.
Henry served on Northeastern Section committees, became
a councilor in 1961 and was Chairman of the Section
in 1963. He served the ACS in important National positions
including secretary and chairman of the Professional
Relations Committee, the ACS Council; Policy Committee,
the Board of Directors, and ultimately president in
1977. He made an especially significant impact in professionalism
by pioneering establishment of a set of guidelines
defining acceptable behavior for employers in their
professional relations with chemists and chemical engineers.
This effort resulted in the ACS landmark document entitled "Professional
Employment Guidelines." [The sixth edition was
before the Council at the recent National ACS Meeting
in Boston, ed.]
|I now conclude my "Recollections
of Dr. Henry A. Hill" with a few personal reminiscences.
At the Boston National ACS Meeting in April 1973, I
attended on invitation a meeting of the Board Committee
on Professional, Public and Member Relations chaired
by Dr. Hill. A discussion on Project Catalyst, a summer
educational program for disadvantaged high school students,
took place. Henry was trying to set up a medium to
raise more funds for this program. Former ACS President
Alan Nixon responded with a twinkle in his eyes that
he believed the project to be important enough to get
out a white paper on it. Not to be outdone Henry Hill
came right back with: "Yes, but it is my observation
that every white paper must have a lot of black ink
imprinted on it."
|While studying at M.I.T.,
Dr. Hill came in contact with Prof. James Flack Norris
who had an enduring influence on his career. Norris,
besides being a great teacher, was noted for his decency
and humanity. Henry later said, "He was the first
big man I met who was more interested in my ability
to learn chemistry than in the identity of my grandparents." Years
later while Chairman of the Northeastern Section, Dr.
Hill was instrumental in establishing the James Flack
Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry. I am happy
that I was able to assist Henry in this endeavor, presenting
the first such award to Sir Christopher Ingold at the
Atlantic City ACS meeting in 1965, during my tenure
as Chairman of the Northeastern Section.
|Finally, in the realm of
hobbies and outside interests, I know that Henry Hill
liked hot jazz and similar types of music. I remember
one evening back in 1967, sitting with him and Dave
Roethel in the night club just off the lobby of the
Montmartre Hotel in Miami Beach, discussing ACS professional
relations, or trying to, to the background of a very
loud jazz band. After some time my aching ears prompted
me to suggest moving to a quieter location. My suggestion
was met with surprisingly stiff reprimand by Henry,
and there was nothing else to do but stay in the deafening