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Donald Crothers

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Donald Crothers Obituary
CROTHERS, DONALD M. Donald Morris Crothers, 77, of Northford, passed away on Sunday, March 16, 2014 at the Smilow Cancer Hospital with his family by his side. He was the husband of Leena Kareoja-Crothers for 54 years. Professor Crothers was born in Fatehgarh, India on January 28, 1937, son of the late Morris King Crothers and Florence Kittredge Crothers. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale in 1958 with a B.S. in Chemistry and earned a B.A. from the University of Cambridge two years later. He received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, San Diego, in 1963. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max-Planck-Institut in Göttingen, Germany, he returned to Yale as a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry in 1964. Professor Crothers was named to an associate professorship in 1968, to a full professorship in 1971 and to the Alfred E. Kemp Professorship in Chemistry in 1985. At the time of his retirement in 2003, he was Sterling Professor of Chemistry and held a joint appointment in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, of which he was a founding member. Though retired from Yale, Professor Crothers continued to work actively as a partner and scientific consultant for numerous biotechnology firms until shortly before his death. Among his many important services to Yale were the two six-year terms he served as Chairman of the Department of Chemistry (1975-1981; 1994-2000). He also served on numerous committees, including as Chair of the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences Advisory Committee on the Education of Women at Yale (1984). In the larger scientific world Professor Crothers was well known for the many remarkable insights into the structure and physical properties of nucleic acids that were generated by the research he and his students carried out over the decades. An outstanding research scientist, he won the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award (1981), was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1986), and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1987). He was awarded the Emily M. Gray Award of the Biophysical Society (2008) for “significant contributions to education through creating rigorous, groundbreaking texts enriching generations of biophysicists,” an award which he shared with David S. Eisenberg of the University of California, Los Angeles. The two co-authored the 1979 text “Physical Chemistry with Applications to the Life Sciences,” which has become a standard textbook in the field. Professor Crothers was the father of Nina Crothers (Fred Nangle) and Kristina Crothers (Mark Skirgaudas); the grandfather of Sofia, Freya, Evan and Elena; and brother of Shirley Crothers Quinn and Susan Crothers. He is also survived by many relatives in the Pacific Northwest and in Finland. Funeral Services and interment were privately held through the North Haven Funeral Home, 36 Washington Avenue, North Haven (www.northhavenfuneral.com). A larger memorial service will be held later in the year.
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Published in The New Haven Register on Mar. 23, 2014
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