Ronald Bentley (1922 - 2011)

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  • "My family and I remember Ronald and Marian with great..."
    - Michele Feingold
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Dr. Ronald "Doc B" Bentley, former professor of biochemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, passed away June 6, 2011, in Charleston, S.C. He was 89.

Ronald was born March 10, 1922, in Derby, England, to Agnes (nee Webster) and Douglas Bentley. He graduated from the University of London in 1943. Ronald received his Ph.D. in 1945 from Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London. He received a DIC (Diploma of Membership of Imperial College) in 1946. He later received his DSc in 1965 from the University of London.

While at the Imperial College of Science, he co-authored 13 reports dealing with the structure and possible synthesis of penicillin. His Ph.D. thesis was "The Chemistry of Penicillin." After graduating in 1946, Ronald came to the United States on a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship to Columbia University, New York. Before attending Columbia, Ronald and two fellow chaps drove to California and back to New York to explore America.

While at Columbia, he met Marian Blanchard. They were married June 19, 1948, in New Jersey.

In 1948, the couple moved to London, England, where he was a Member of Scientific Staff, National Institute for Medical Research. In 1952 they returned to Columbia University in New York.

In 1953, Ronald began as an assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Pittsburgh in what was at the time the department of biochemistry and nutrition, Graduate School of Public Health. He became an associate professor in 1956 and in 1960 became a professor of biochemistry. From 1972 to 1975 he was chairman, department of biochemistry, and from 1976 to 1977 was assistant chairman, department of biological sciences.

He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1957.

Ronald and Marian added to the family with three children: Colin, Alison and Peter.

In 1960, he received a Public Health Service Special Fellowship at Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, CA, so he moved the family to Monterey, CA for the summer. In 1963, Ronald was awarded a Public Health Service Fellowship at the Institute of Biochemistry, University of Lund, so he moved the family to Sweden for a year.

In 1979, he was awarded the Pittsburgh Award by the Pittsburgh Section of the American Chemical Society.

Over the years, he worked with numerous colleagues and was a prolific writer and researcher. Publications include 108 research papers, 41 book chapters, reviews and general interest papers, 41 abstracts of research presented at meetings, a two-volume book "Molecular Asymmetry in Biology," and eight miscellaneous publications. He was also selected as an editor for the "Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology."

Ronald's adventurous spirit took his family back home to the UK, to Europe, and to many locations in North America. Among his most cherished memories were backpacking in Otter Creek in West Virginia, family trips with friends to Crown Island in Ontario, Canada, any trip to the Tetons in Wyoming or Yosemite in California. He took the family on nine Sierra Club outings from Maine to California, one of which was chronicled in a National Geographic book titled "Wilderness USA."

Ronald lost his daughter, Alison, in 1985, and lost his Lady Marian in 1989.

Over the last 22 years, Ronald continued to travel. He visited the UK, and he enjoyed his yearly visits to his sons in South Carolina and Montana.

He had many hobbies, including making pottery, folk dancing, cooking, reading and photography. Not to mention his continued fascination with molds and fungi.

He enjoyed a multitude of friends throughout America and Europe. He always enjoyed visits to and from personal and family friends. These include former and current colleagues, former students and many neighbors who were like family that watched over him and his dogs, Glencora, and later Bron Wen. He could routinely be seen walking his dog around the neighborhood and "the woods" and would often take his dog on day hikes to Ohiopyle State Park.

He is survived by sons, Colin (Ann) of South Carolina and Peter (Tracy) of Montana.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from June 19 to June 21, 2011
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