Lexington, Massachusetts

1929 - 2020


Lexington, Massachusetts


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SEYFERTH, Dietmar Of Lexington, longtime MIT professor, researcher, and pioneer in the field of organometallic chemistry, died on Saturday, June 6, 2020. He was 91. Professor Seyferth was born in Chemnitz, Germany on January 11, 1929 to Elisabeth (Schuchardt) Seyferth and Herbert C. Seyferth. At the age of 4, he moved with his parents to Buffalo, NY in 1933. Always a brilliant student, he earned a BA in chemistry from the University of Buffalo in 1951 and a PhD from Harvard University in 1955. He continued with postdoctoral studies at the Inorganic Chemistry Institute, Technische Hochschule, Munich, and Harvard University. He worked for Dow Corning in Michigan, briefly, before returning to academia as an instructor and then professor in the chemistry department at MIT in 1957. Professor Seyferth spent 42 years as a professor there, teaching classes and conducting research in the field of organometallic chemistry. He was an editor for The Journal of Organometallic Chemistry and the founding editor of the American Chemical Society journal, Organometallics. Among his many honors were memberships in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He was the owner of numerous patents and the author of over 500 research papers, reviews, and book chapters. After retiring in 1999, he continued to teach and write for several years. He often said he was thankful to be one of the rare lucky people who loved his work.

In addition to his passion for his work, Professor Seyferth loved travel, history, reading, classical music, and time at home with family. Those close to him, and the many graduate and postdoctoral students he guided and challenged over the years, found him brilliant and jovial and stern, fun loving and industrious, inspiring of both respect and laughter in equal measure.

Professor Seyferth is survived by Helena (McCoy) Seyferth, his wife of 63 years, son Eric and his wife Sara Reynolds of Bennington, VT, son Karl of Lexington, daughter Elisabeth and her husband Michael McKenna of Lexington, grandchildren Allison Perry and husband Brandon, Julia Seyferth, Elise Seyferth, Theodore McKenna, and Marshall McKenna, and great-grandchildren Caleb and William Perry.

Burial was private at Westview Cemetery in Lexington. A Memorial Service will be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Perkins School for the Blind: Lexington 781-862-18090

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Dietmar and I worked in the same area of OM chemistry for many years and had many interesting and fruitful discussions at scientific meetings and later, together with our wives, at the annual ACS Editor Conferences. I learned a lot from him and greatly respected his approach to research, and his dedication to detail and doing good science. I particularly remember his annoyance with papers in the early days that neglected to report the full elemental composition (analysis) of reported new...

Dietmar Seyferth was a wonderful colleague and inspiring researcher. I admired him very much and was highly pleased that he seemed to appreciate my work, which I held as a high honor.

Ken Raymond