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Robert Connick

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Robert Connick Obituary
Robert E. Connick

July 29, 1917 - August 21, 2014

Robert (Bob), the second child of Florence and Arthur Connick, was born in Eureka, CA. At age 12, he moved to Berkeley, CA, with his parents and three sisters, Katherine, Margaret and Jeanette. After graduating from Berkeley High School, he attended the University of California at Berkeley where he earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1942. He worked as a research associate on the Manhattan Project before joining the UC Berkeley faculty in 1945. In 1952 he married Frances Jane Spieth (1923-2009) and together they raised 6 children.
At UC Berkeley, Bob was highly regarded as an educator, administrator, and researcher. His research contributed significantly to advancement in understanding of inorganic reaction kinetics and mechanisms. He is perhaps most known for development of nuclear magnetic resonance methods for determining rates of water exchange reactions. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1963. He also was a G.N. Lewis Lecturer and Awardee (1968) and a two-time Guggenheim Fellow (1948, 1958). As an administrator, Bob earned a reputation for integrity, fairness and pragmatism. Over the course of his career, he served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry, Dean of the UC Berkeley College of Chemistry, and Vice Chancellor of UC Berkeley, as well as Chair of the Academic Senate for both Berkeley and the UC system. In recognition of his distinguished and extraordinary service, Bob was awarded the rare combination of the Berkeley Citation (1971) and the Berkeley Medal (1988).
Over nearly six decades, Bob's and Frances' shared interest in other cultures led them to travel extensively on all continents except Antarctica. After Bob became Professor Emeritus, he and Frances pursued their longtime passion for rock art with renewed vigor, by documenting petroglyphs, presenting their findings at symposia and publishing their analyses. They are credited with reporting one of the oldest petroglyph sites in North America at Winnemucca Lake, NV. Bob was a longtime member of the Bohemian Club. He also served as a Councillor for the Save the Redwoods League and was an ardent champion of California native plants. A Berkeley-area resident for more than 80 years, he was known in later years for clearing brush, removing trash and maintaining trails near Kensington Hilltop School and in Wildcat Canyon on his daily walks.
Bob is survived by his children Mary, Elizabeth, Arthur (I-Wen), Megan, Sarah, and William (Marcelle), and nine grandchildren. No service will be held. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the UC Berkeley College of Chemistry and Save the Redwoods League.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Sept. 7 to Sept. 8, 2014
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