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Edward Ernest Schweizer

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Edward Ernest Schweizer Obituary
Edward Ernest Schweizer

Edward Ernest Schweizer, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of Delaware, rowed off into the theater in the sky to his final lecture on May 18, 2014.

Schweizer was born in 1928 in Shanghai, China where his Swiss father was in the silk exporting business.

His mother was a third generation British resident of Shanghai. He migrated to Europe in 1930 living primarily in England and Switzerland with his grandparents and then in a children's boarding school in Switzerland during 1931-1933. In 1933 the family moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina where his father had a paint manufacturing and hardware importing business. He received his secondary education at the American Grammar and High School in Buenos Aires.

In 1946 he moved to Florida Southern College, in Lakeland, Florida to start his college career. After one and a half years in Florida he moved to North Dakota where he received his Bachelors of Science from North Dakota State College in 1951. He then worked for a year as managing chemist at Argos, his father's company, in Buenos Aires. He then immigrated to the United States in 1952. After nine months in Fargo, North Dakota, he earned a Master of Science degree from the North Dakota State College. He went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1953 to study Organic Chemistry. He became an American citizen in Boston, Massachusetts in 1955. Edward successfully defended his thesis in December 1956 and received his PhD in Chemistry with the class graduating in 1957.

He then worked for two years at Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co. in St. Paul, Minnesota. After spending a year and a half as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Minnesota he joined the faculty of Hofstra College in 1960. In 1961 he moved to Newark, Delaware where he started teaching in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Delaware where he retired in 1994 as an Emeritus Full Professor.

Schweizer was a member of the University of Delaware Senate since its inception until he retired. During his tenure in the Senate he attempted to legislate, unsuccessfully, that the Fraternities be required to re-institute having housemothers, to have women living in the houses, and to lower their excessive drinking. These proposals distressed the Fraternity members so much that one of them painted Schweizer's likeness blowing away a Fraternity member on the Chrysler company water tower just across from the University skating rinks.

He was known to be a gadfly in the University Senate that questioned many actions by the University Administration. After the bombing of Cambodia, during the Viet Nam war, he was threatened with expulsion from the University, by the then President Trabant, if he did not cease making statements against the war during class time.

Schweizer was very involved with the theater. While at college in North Dakota he played Ernest in "The Importance of Being Ernest" and also stage-managed a number of plays. He served on the board of the Delaware Theater Company for about 10 years. He acted in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brody" at the theatre. On the Mitchell Hall stage, at the University of Delaware, he played the parts of Benvolio in Marlow's "Faustus" and Orgon in Moliere's "Tartuffe," under the name of the Ernest Mortimer Thomas, his English uncle's name. At one time he was a member of the American Chemical Society, the Royal Chemical Society of England, and Phi Kappa Phi. He has over 90 publications.

Schweizer was married to Karen L. Johnson (later Smith), of Fargo in 1951, they divorced in 1965. His dearest second wife, Joy Baldwin (McConnell) Schweizer, whom he married in 1967 survives him. He is survived by four children, three step children and their respective spouses: Edward E. Schweizer M.D. of Princeton, NJ; Robert A. Schweizer, M.D. of Media, PA; Paul G. Schweizer, Esq. of Keene, NH; K. Elizabeth A.L. Schweizer-Yaffe, M.D. of Kansas City, KS; Catherine McConnell of Pittsburgh, PA; Kimberley M. Camp of Sebastopol, CA; Sarah E. Wood, of Middlebury, VT; and a God Daughter Allison J. Leete, of Camarillo, CA. He is also survived by twenty seven grandchildren, step grandchildren and granddaughters in law as well as five great grandsons and two great granddaughters.

Schweizer helped established the University of Delaware rowing club, and was its first faculty advisor. In lieu of flowers, contribution checks can be made to Wilmington Rowing Center, 501 "A" Street, Wilmington, DE 19801. As per final wishes, all services will be private. Edward wrote this obituary to be published after his death. To send condolences visit

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Published in The News Journal on May 23, 2014
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