Ditmars Dr. Walter Earl Ditmars Jr. died on July 21, 2013 in Dublin, Ohio. Walt was born in 1923 in Boston, son of Major Walter E. Ditmars and Jennie Ann Johnson of Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York. A 13th generation American, one of Walt's' immigrant grandfathers received a land grant from Peter Stuyvesant in 1647 at Dutch Kills, Astoria, Queens, NYC. Four of his ancestral grandfathers served as officers and riflemen in General Washington's Continental Army. In 1926, Major Ditmars founded Carbice Corporation of America, first manufacturer of dry ice with August Heckscher and Irene du Pont. He managed the Wall Street brokerage Fenner & Beane, investing with William C. Durant, before assuming presidency of Gray Manufacturing Company, manufacturer of Paystation telephones and Audograph recording machines. Jennie Johnson was granddaughter of Isaac Gale Johnson, founder in 1850 of I. G. Johnson Iron Works and Steel Mills in Spuyten Duyvil, the Bronx, where he manufactured railroad and automobile components, and cannons and shot. At the end of the Civil War, the Navy named its first experimental torpedo ship the U.S.S. Spuyten Duyvil in recognition of Isaac's contribution to innovation of defensive armor and artillery technology. In April 1865 the U.S.S. Spuyten Duyvil carried President Lincoln up the James River to Richmond after the Confederacy's surrender. Later Isaac invented an armor-piercing exploding artillery shell for the War Department that gave Allied Naval Forces great advantage during World War I. He also built Spuyten Dyvil's Edgehill Church for hundreds Irish immigrants who found jobs in Isaac's foundries and mills. Walt graduated from Riverdale's Fieldston Day and Horace Mann Schools, Culver Military Academy, and Harvard, where he played cornet in and managed Harvard's Gold Coast Dance Orchestra and Rhythm Ramblers Swing Band. During World War II, M.I. T. hired Walt to develop rocket technology for the War Department. He earned an M.S. in chemistry at University of Connecticut and married Eva DeMars, daughter of West Hartford real estate developer Aimee DeMars. In 1950, Walt joined Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, where he invented a dry-cell battery and earned a doctorate in surface chemistry at Ohio State University, where he invented a method for purifying chlorophyll for federal government photosynthesis research. Walt retired a senior editor and consultant for Chemical Abstracts Service, where he specialized in quantum mechanics and statistical thermodynamics. He loved jazz and classical music, poetry, photography, collecting rare coins, and was a member of American Chemical Society, Sierra Club, and United Methodist Church. Funeral service will be 11 a.m. Wednesday at EGAN-RYAN FUNERAL HOME NORTHWEST CHAPEL, 4661 Kenny Road, Columbus, Ohio. Interment to follow at Green Lawn Cemetery. Donations in Walt's memory for a cure for osteoarthritis are invited to the Trudeau Institute, 154 Algonquin Avenue, Saranac Lake, NY 12983, (518) 891-3080, www.trudeauinstitute.org.
Published in The Columbus Dispatch on July 23, 2013