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1941 - 2012
In June 1951 a small ship docked in Hoboken, NJ. A ten-year old boy named Walter, his mother and older brother disembarked to begin a new life in America after fleeing from communist East Germany. They settled in Michigan, where Walter graduated from Birmingham High School and the University of Michigan. He received a M.A. from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University prior to joining E.I. duPont de Nemours et Cie. During his nearly 41 years as a research chemist at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, he published numerous articles and was inventor on 34 US patents, primarily in fluoro-elastomers. His colleagues admired his ability to find out how the molecules worked and to make them behave as was needed to create or improve a product. Dr. Schmiegel was noted for his encouragement and mentoring of younger chemists who would also make important contributions to their profession. He was a long-time member of the American Chemical Society.
Walter Schmiegel was born in Chemnitz, Germany, in 1941. His father Walther had died in 1940. His mother, Martha Wendisch Schmiegel, guided the family through the War and difficult Russian occupation. She plotted her family's escape to Berlin and managed the move to the US, where both her sons became research scientists. Dr. Schmiegel's interests included classical music, history, photography, and bicycling. He believed that the garden he made with his wife Karol was one of his most enjoyable creations. Together they traveled widely in the US, Canada, and western Europe to visit places of natural beauty and of cultural interest.
Dr. Schmiegel died on April 11, 2012 at home in Wilmington. He is survived by his wife of 41 years Karol A. Schmiegel, his brother Klaus, his wife Joel, their three children and seven grandchildren. His mother predeceased him in 1994. Other living relatives include his cousin Michael Fehrmann of Australia.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to the University of Michigan Scholarship Fund or the Biggs Museum of American Art, PO Box 711, Dover 19901.
Published in The News Journal on Apr. 15, 2012