Harold Hart
1922 - 2019
Harold Hart

Kalamazoo - Harold Hart, father of four children and Professor Emeritus in Chemistry at Michigan State University, passed away in his sleep at the age of 97 in his Kalamazoo, MI home on November 17, 2019.

Harold was born in 1922 to David and Ruth Hart in New York City. He graduated from high school in 1937, attended Brooklyn College (1937-1939) and then moved to the University of Illinois where he received a BS in chemistry in 1941. There he met the love of his life, Geraldine Cohen. They married in 1942 after moving to State College, PA where they started their family. Harold did government research at Pennsylvania State University from 1941-1945 while simultaneously completing MS (1943) and PhD (1947) degrees. The young family moved to East Lansing in 1946 (Okemos in 1953) where Harold began his career in the MSU Department of Chemistry as an Instructor, becoming Professor in 1957.

Harold taught organic chemistry and published research with over 160 undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students until his retirement in 1987. He was a major influence on the transformation of MSU Chemistry from a teaching department to an excellent research department. In 1953 he wrote the first organic chemistry textbook (with RD Schuetz) designed for non-chemistry majors. This book is currently in its thirteenth edition. His research contributions involved both synthetic and physical organic chemistry and he was recognized by many awards, visiting professorships and lectureships. He also served the chemistry community in many ways including as editor of Chemical Reviews (1967-1976).

Several years before retiring, with Gerry's encouragement, Harold took pottery classes and then joined the Greater Lansing Potters' Guild in 1980. He sold his wares at their biannual sales for over 30 years. This activity inspired him to publish several works at the intersection of pottery and chemistry. Harold also played tennis for 75 years until the age of 87.

Harold and Gerry enjoyed many activities with friends including bridge, travel, politics, and concerts. They built a summer home on Beaver Island where Harold continued to make pottery, play tennis, and entertain family and friends.

Harold was preceded in death by his parents, wife (Geraldine) and two siblings (Natalie and Nathaniel). He is survived by his sister (Frances), daughters Ariel (Richard), Diana, and Leslie (Tim), son David (Rose), by grandchildren Raphael (Jocelyn), Talia, Brynn, Steven, Naomi (Dean), Rachel (Liz), Lyla (Matt) and Nick, and eight great-grandchildren. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends and dear neighbors (Ann and Rick Wooten).

Harold has donated his body to the Western Michigan University Medical School where he joins his wife as a silent teacher for medical students. In remembrance, donations can be made to the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Greater Lansing Potters' Guild, three of his favorite organizations. A memorial celebration will be held in East Lansing at a later date.

Published by Lansing State Journal from Nov. 26 to Dec. 2, 2019.
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2 Entries
I am so sorry to learn of Dr. Hart's passing. He was a wonderful boss and I loved working for him many years ago at MSU.

You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Tonya (Acre) Merrill
Tonya Merrill (Acre)
January 4, 2020
Harold and his wife donated some lovely ceramics to the Broad Art Museum at MSU, along with a collection of Japanese Netsuke. We think of them every time we pull the works out for a class to use, or a student to study them.
December 10, 2019
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