Dr. Richard Errett Smalley
Nobel Laureate and Rice University Professor Dr. RICHARD ERRETT SMALLEY, PH.D. passed away on Friday, the 28th of October 2005, after a seven-year battle with Leukemia. He was 62. His extraordinary scientific contributions were recognized by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1996 with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery in 1985 of the Carbon 60 molecule, Buckminsterfullerene, which he nicknamed "Buckyball." He shared the prize with Rice University Professor Robert Curl, and Sir Harold Kroto of the University of Sussex. At the ceremony, Smalley named two people who made vital contributions to their research, James R. Heath, Ph.D. and C. Sean O'Brien, Ph.D who were then Rice graduate students. Smalley was born June 6, 1943 in Akron, Ohio, to Frank Dudley Smalley, Jr., and Esther Virginia Rhoads and was the youngest of four children. His interest in science began in his early teens while his mother was working on her Bachelor degree. Together they collected single-cell organisms from a local pond and studied them with a microscope sparking his long scientific career. He began his academic career at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and later transferred to the University of Michigan where he earned a B.S. Degree in Chemistry in 1965. After an intervening four-year period as a research chemist with Shell, he resumed his studies at Princeton University and earned his M.S. in Chemistry in 1971 and a Ph.D. in 1973. During a postdoctoral period with Lennard Wharton and Donald Levy at the University of Chicago, he pioneered what has become one of the most powerful techniques in chemical physics; supersonic beam laser spectroscopy. He joined Rice University in 1976 and was named to the Gene and Norman Hackerman Chair in Chemistry in 1981. He was a founder of the Rice Quantum Institute in 1979, and served as the Chairman from 1986 to 1996. In 1990 he became a Professor in the Department of Physics and was appointed University Professor in 2002. Smalley was the founding director of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Rice in 1993, and became the Director of the Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory in 1992. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was the recipient of many other awards including the 1991 Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics, the 1992 International Prize for New Materials, the 1992 E.O. Lawrence Award of the U.S. Department of Energy, the 1992 Robert A. Welch Award in Chemistry, the 1993 William H. Nichols Medal of the American Chemical Society, the 1993 John Scott Award of the City of Philadelphia, the 1994 Europhysics Prize, the 1994 Harrison Howe Award, the 1995 Madison Marshall Award, the 1996 Franklin Medal, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the 1997 Distinguished Public Service Medal awarded by the US Department of the Navy, the 2002 Glenn T. Seaborg Medal, the 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award of Small Times Magazine, the 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award from Hope College, and the 2005 SPIE Visionary Award. He received three honorary degrees in 2004 an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Richmond; a Doctor Scientiarum Honoris Causa from Technion Israel Institute of Technology, and a Doctor of Science from Tuskegee University. Rice University President David Leebron said of his passing, "We will miss Rick's brilliance, commitment, energy, enthusiasm, and humanity. He epitomized what we value at Rice: path breaking research, commitment to teaching, and contribution to the betterment of our world. In important ways, Rick helped build and shape the Rice University of today. His extraordinary scientific contributions, recognized with the Nobel Prize, will form the foundation of new technologies that will improve life for millions. His life's work and his brave fight against a terrible disease were an inspiration to all." He is survived by his bride, Deborah Sheffield Smalley, two sons, Chad Richard Smalley and Preston Reed Smalley; two sisters, Linda Rings and Mary Jill Olson; one brother, Clayton Smalley, two step-daughters, Eva Kluber & Alison Kluber, and one granddaughter, Bridget Burkhaulter. Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from five o'clock in the afternoon until eight o'clock in the evening on Tuesday, the 1st of November, in the Library of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston. The funeral service will be conducted at one o'clock in the afternoon on Wednesday, the 2nd of November, in the Sanctuary of Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway Drive in Houston, with Rev. Ben Young officiating. A reception will immediately follow in the adjacent Deacons' Parlor. In lieu of usual remembrances, the family has suggested that memorials be directed to the Smalley-Curl Fund for Innovation, in care of Rice University, P. O. Box 1892 (MS100), Houston, TX, 77251-1892.

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Published by Houston Chronicle on Oct. 31, 2005.
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10 Entries
Dr. Smalley was a founder of the Texas academy of medine,engineering,and science.He gave to the international community in science and to Texas in Science leadership.His feeling for urgency and wisdom in target focus will go beyond his time with us.The Academy feels the loss of its Founder.
C. Thomas Caskey
November 3, 2005
To the family of Dr. Smalley. I share your grief of your love one. The Bible mention at Isaiah 33:24 that God promise that "no one will say I am sick". What a happy time that will be for all of us.
MAGGIE LEE Rivers
October 31, 2005
Rick and I were same age cousins. Having not seen "Ricky" since High School (1961), I remember growing up with Ricky and having fun with puppet shows and water skiing on Sunday afternoons at Lake Quivira. I remember his dry sense of humor which now seems like the foretelling of his now noteable intelligence and accomplishments. I wish we could have seen more of each other over the years. I am proud of Rick and his contributions to the world. To Deborah and the rest of the family we pray for God's comfort and peace as we mourn with you for your loss at this time.
Jim & Joan "Smalley" Hoch
October 31, 2005
I'll miss you Dr. Smalley. God bless you and your family.
October 31, 2005
Cousin Ricky, wearing his black beret and playing his clarinet on Christmas Eve in 1956...a sexy start for a future Nobel Laureate! We knew you when.
Marsha Diane
October 31, 2005
Rick was a very special and caring man. Our lives are made better just for having known him. He will truly be missed!
Jan, Bruno, T.J. & Jennifer Lampart
October 31, 2005
Good bye to a good man. Taken way to early in life. He was my "Best Man" at our wedding and a best man in the life of many.
Eugene & Mary Sampieri
October 30, 2005
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
Carla Atmar
October 30, 2005
I want to offer my sympathies and condolences to Rick's family and colleagues.

I remember the fall of 1976 when Rick stopped me in the hall of the Chemistry building and talked to me about the cool spectroscopy and science he wanted to do with supercooled molecules. The way that they would be cooled, in a supersonic jet, got me hooked. That and the passion he had for his work and the subject. I didn't stop to think that this guy was the most junior member of the Chemistry faculty. I signed up for his group.

Our first job was making a lab out of what amounted to a storeroom on the third floor of the space science building. Old desks and junk were cleaned out, tools were purchased at Sears (in metric sizes so we could use them on our cars, too), lasers and pumps and other gear started to appear, we designed and built App 1 and then App 2. And we did science. Beautiful spectroscopy. And I had a ball.

In the days before I graduated and left in 1980, we avoided clusters and other "junk" like that - they interfered with single molecule spectroscopy! Rick saw the possibilities of interesting chemistry beyond the spectroscopy. I remember reading about buckeyalls in the '80s and thinking - wow! look what interesting things you can find in the "junk" we were trying to not make in those machines! He had a razor sharp mind and a drive that would not quit.

I will always be thankful to have known and worked with him.

Greg Liverman, BA (Rice 1976), PhD (Rice 1981)
Greg Liverman
October 30, 2005
I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I cared for him at the hospital and he was so special.
J S
October 30, 2005
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