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Dr. Hillar Rootare

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ROOTARE, Hillar Dr. Hillar M. Rootare died October 2, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was a physical chemist and world-renowned scientist, best known for his work in mercury porosimetry, high pressure liquid chromatography and hydroxy appetites as well as the formulation in 1967 of the Rootare-Prenzlow Equation, a differential calculus for the determination of total surface area of porous materials. Degreed in Chemistry, Dental Materials and Pharmacology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1973, he also earned a Bachelor of Science in 1952 from Wagner College on Staten Island, New York. Of his numerous writings that appeared in the peer-reviewed scientific journals, the 1967 paper stands out and remains often cited by researchers in the field today. "Surface Areas From Mercury Porosimetry Measurements, " Rootare, H.M. and Prenzlow, C.F., 71 Journal of Physical Chemistry p. 2733 (1967), in which Rootare and Prenzlow formally presented their findings, which later became known as the Rootare-Prenzlow Equation, was initially worked out by the two young graduate students on cocktail napkins at Metzgers Bar in Ann Arbor after a late night in their old lab on Church Street. Hillar also perfected the Hydrogen Micron Spectroscope and the Mercury Porosimeter. He was employed at The National Bureau of Standards, The American Instrument Company, the University of Michigan, Micromeritics in Atlanta and Quantachrome Corporation in New York. Along with Dr. James Rhodes of Greenville, SC, he developed the "whiskers"-microscopic crystalline fibers used to strengthen ultra-light ceramic heat-resistant tiles employed on NASA's Space Shuttle to protect it from the heat of re-entry into earth's atmosphere. Today this technology is used on other space crafts as well as in algenate impression materials sstill used in reconstructive dentistry. He also did extensive work in electron microscopy, and, with the National Institutes of Health, spent seven years researching a possible manufacture of synthetic bone with the same density, porosity, and strength as natural bone, eventually to be used in bone grafts in human patients. He retired from The Advanced Composite Materials Corporation in 2006. Born in Tallinn, Estonia, he was the son of Karl Johannes Rootare, also a chemist, who applied for numerous U.S. patents in the field of chemotherapy for cancer patients, and was also an amateur chess player, violinist, violin maker, and cavalry officer in the Estonian Army, and Karin Kangas Rootare, who spoke multiple languages and served as an interpreter during World War II. The family emigrated from Estonia to Helsinki, Finland in 1944, and later to Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland, and then immigrated to New York City from Stockholm, Sweden in 1946. Hillar spoke several languages including English, Estonian, Finnish, Swedish, and to a lesser degree German and Russian. He was a fifty-year member of the American Chemical Society, the American Fine Particle Society, Sigma Psi scientific fraternity and Rotalia, an Estonian fraternity. He was a SCUBA enthusiast, a member of the Washington, D.C.-based Sub Committee diving club, as well as an instructor certified by the National Association of Underwater Instructors. Rounding out his tripartite search for adventure in air, undersea, and on land, he was an enthusiastic owner and rider of his BSA motorcycles. Additionally, he gave generously to the Estonian students seeking refuge and education in the United States. Dr. Rootare was most proud of his service in the United States Air Force as a flight officer in the Strategic Air Command as a navigator and an Electronics Countermeasures Officer. He was a flying member of the famed Dusty's Raiders. He knew the B-17, converted for reconnaissance, inside and out. Married for almost fifty years to the former Norene Catherine Kindstrand, of Westchester County, New York, the family includes three daughters and three sons. They are: Laura R. Weber, Paul Andres Rootare, Niel Matti Rootare, Eva Marie Rootare, Lennart Victor Rootare, and Margrethe Ann Rootare, as well as six grandchildren: Lindsay, Michael, Sidney and Ryan Rootare, and Eric and John Weber. He is also survived by his grandniece, Valerie Malk Keffer of Houston, Texas. In Goteborg, Sweden, Hillar is survived by his cousin Johannes ("Jussi") Kangas and his wife Tynne, and their son Leo and his wife Anita, their sons Matts and Martin Kangas. In Haapsaluu, Estonia, he is survived by his grandnephew Ott Rootare and his wife Kaja and their daughter Liisa. His cousin, Rheet Rootare pre-deceased him 2004. The funeral will by held at Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta, Georgia on October 6, 2008 at 10:30a.m., and burial will be held at Georgia National Cemetery, Father Steve Yander, officiating. The family will recieve friends Sunday evening from 4 until 6 at H.M. Patterson & Son Oglethorpe Hill Chapel 4550 Peachtree Rd. N. E. DR. HILLAR M. ROOTARE
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Oct. 5, 2008
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