Nov. 14, 1940 - Dec. 17, 2012
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BUCHANAN - Patrick Andrew Wegner passed away on December 17, 2012. He was residing at Buchanan Meadows, a care facility in Buchanan, Michigan. Patrick was born on November 14, 1940 and was the son of Erwin P. (Sam) Wegner and Esther (Lyczynski) Wegner, both deceased. A sister, Pamela Alexander of Stonington, CT and brothers, J. Michael Wegner of South Bend and Edward J. LeCouteur of Manchaug, MA, and numerous nieces and nephews survive him. A step-mother, Margaret J. Wegner died earlier this year. Patrick graduated from Riley High School in 1958. He earned his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in 1962 and completed his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of California, Riverside in 1966. For two years he worked in the advanced research department at E. I. DuPont in Wilmington, DE, but returned to California in 1969 to begin his teaching and research career at California State University, Fullerton. Pat had a distinguished career at CSUF spanning more than three decades. He served as chair of the Chemistry Department from 1978-1983, then associate vice president for extended education from 1984-85, and in 1986 became associate vice president for Research and External Programs. He was also a member of the Athletics Council and the University's Academic Senate, and from 1977-78 he was an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellow at the Technical University of Munich. Also, during his professional career, he served as associate director of the California Council on Science and Technology, a state agency, and wrote numerous articles that appeared in such publications as the Journal of the American Chemical Society and Inorganic Chemistry. In 2003, Wegner retired but, through the University's early retirement program, he continued to do what he liked best - conducting research and teaching part time-until 2007. Pat not only distinguished himself as a talented teacher but also as a highly successful researcher. His research over the years was funded by many organizations such as the American Chemical Society and NASA, and he attended and presented papers at the distinguished Gordon Conferences. In the early 1990's he started pioneering work on developing innovative software for teaching chemistry. This led to several large grants from the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Education. Through collaborative study with colleagues at Fullerton and UCLA he developed MCWeb (Mastering Chemistry Web, which was purchased by John Wiley Books) a web-based learning system that included state-of-the-art animations and ground-breaking flexibility and customization possibilities for instructors. It has been used by thousands of students at dozens of high schools, colleges and universities. Shortly after Pat's passing the family received a note from a former colleague he worked with at CSUF. She wrote: "I have so many fond memories of times with him. He was a real foundation for the Chemistry Department at CSUF, with so much wisdom and perspective, but also enthusiasm for what he did. Time spent with Pat was always time well spent." His peers often recognized him for his dedicated work for the University and his students. In 2007, he received the Charles R. Bennett "Service Through Chemistry" Award from the Orange County Section of the American Chemical Society for his major contributions to chemistry and education. When something interested Pat he approached it with the same thoroughness he applied to his profession. He had a deep and lively interest in sports and politics. He cheered for the Titans baseball team, College World Series winners, and was particularly proud that the football team (no longer in existence) went to a bowl game during his time as NCAA Faculty Rep. He loved to fish and was an active reader, particularly of history, including political history, the history of science and French Impressionism and the novels of Jane Austen. He also had a deep interest in Winston Churchill and other 20th century political figures. He had over 700 books in his personal library. Being a bachelor he ate out frequently and traveled extensively, thus allowing him to sample a full range of regional and ethnic fare. However, during family visits, he couldn't wait to enjoy his sister's cooking - especially the spaghetti carbonara and lemon pie. Pat had provided for the establishment of the Wegner Family Scholarship Fund to benefit Cal State Fullerton chemistry students. To donate, contact Camille Harper in the university development office at 657-278-2245. A private graveside service will be held at a later date.
Published in South Bend Tribune on Dec. 30, 2012