New Haven - Richard Leslie Hinman, 93, passed away peacefully Feb. 10, 2021, in New Haven surrounded by his family. Born March 8, 1927, in Utica, N.Y., Richard was the only child of Mildred Durr Hinman and Harold Hinman.
Richard grew up in Utica and, thanks to his grandfather, cultivated a love for the great outdoors, particularly fishing, camping, boating and catching snakes. Richard developed a fascination with chemical reactions at an early age, which eventually developed into a lifelong passion for science.
As an undergraduate at Columbia University, Richard studied organic chemistry and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Varsity Rifle Club and the Columbia Players. He also served as president of the Chandler Chemistry Society. He took a brief hiatus from his studies to serve in the United States Army in Japan at the end of World War II, then returned to complete his undergraduate degree. Richard went on to receive a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Illinois and completed a fellowship at the University of Cambridge in the lab of renowned biochemist Alexander Todd. Following his years in academics, Richard joined Pfizer ultimately serving as senior vice president of Central Research in Groton, where, in addition to his work, he developed some of his closest lifelong friendships.
Post-retirement from Pfizer, Richard remained actively involved with a variety of local and national science organizations. One of his favorite roles was as president of the Science Center of Eastern Connecticut, which he was instrumental in creating. Richard avidly promoted his passion for scientific literacy and science education for many years. To this end, he helped found the Science and Math Jamboree (SAM-JAM) interactive education fair for school-aged children in Connecticut and served as tutor and mentor to underprivileged children in the areas of science and math.
Richard was also very fond of travel: studying the language, savoring the cuisine and immersing himself in the culture of the many foreign countries he visited. Whether visiting the Potala Palace in Lhasa, wandering among the Great Pyramids of Egypt or cuddling sloths in the Amazon, Richard treasured his world travels alongside his beloved wife and best friend of over 53 years, Rosalind.
Richard's passion for science and travel was eclipsed only by his love for his family. He was happiest when surrounded by his wife and four children, despite occasionally having to admonish the overly rambunctious ones to "Pipe down!" He loved sharing in his favorite pastimes with his children, such as sailing, skiing, reading, speaking foreign languages, playing chess, building treehouses and strumming guitar while singing somewhat in tune. Richard enjoyed gunkholing along the Connecticut River near his home, at times with a creative interpretation of water depth and tide level. He could often be seen behind the helm of his prized boat, Esmeralda, sporadically accompanied by Sea-Tow. Richard relished being the life of the party and making his loved ones laugh - which he did frequently, whether intentional or not.
Above all, Richard will be remembered for his wit and humor, his kindness and generosity, his spunk and curiosity, his "tell-it-like-it-is" nature, his unwavering thirst for knowledge, and his immeasurable dedication to his beloved family.
Richard is survived by his wife Rosalind; his daughter Katie (Hinman) McHugh and her husband Pete, of California; his son Jeremy Hinman of California; his son Adrian Hinman and his wife Cindy of California; and his daughter Isabel (Hinman) Carrington and her husband Bif of Connecticut. He also leaves his grandchildren, Will and Juliet Hinman; and his niece Sayre Berman.
Richard's wish was to have his body donated to science. A private Celebration of Life is planned for this summer along the Connecticut River. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Richard's name to the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven or Fenway High School, 67 Alleghany Street, Roxbury, MA 02120.
Published in The Day on Feb. 21, 2021.