Gregory Robert Choppin
Gregory Robert Choppin, born in 1927, passed away October 21, 2015, surrounded by his family. Greg is survived by his wife of 64 years, Ann Warner Choppin; his children, Denise Choppin (Paul McCall), Suzanne Choppin (Michael Brezin), Paul Choppin (Brenda) and Nadine Choppin (Bill Wagner); and by his grandchildren, Marc and Keith McCall and Mia, Rhemy and Madeline Brezin. Greg was a loving and supportive husband, father and grandfather who inspired his family with his strong ethical perspective, love of learning, sharp wit and zest for life. Greg is also survived by his brothers, Gerald and Gilbert Choppin.
Greg grew up in New Orleans. He attended Aloysius High School and received a B.S., Maxima Cum Laude, from Loyola University. Greg's undergraduate studies were interrupted by service in the Army during the Occupation of Japan. After his military service, Greg earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Texas. He completed post-doctoral studies and was employed as a research scientist at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, University of California-Berkeley, under Dr. Glenn Seaborg, where he was a co-discoverer of chemical element 101, Mendelevium. In 1956, Greg joined the Chemistry faculty at Florida State University, where his research focused on the rare earth elements and radioactive heaviest elements, resulting in the publication of 13 books and more than 300 research papers. As a teacher and researcher, Greg fostered the careers of innumerable students and formed close enduring relationships with his loyal band of "Choppinites." His love of teaching was recognized in 1967 by his designation as a R.O. Lawton Distinguished Professor and receipt of the Manufacturing Chemists Association National College Chemistry Teacher Award in 1979. Greg loved teaching and research so much that he continued to work despite being feted at several retirement parties over the years.
Greg enjoyed a rich fulfilling life personally and professionally. His wide-ranging interests included sailing, scuba-diving, history, art, literature, astronomy, photography, bonsai and collecting Uranium glass. His professional accomplishments and endeavors allowed Greg and Ann to indulge their love of travel, maintaining close relationships with friends and colleagues all over the world. When not traveling, Greg and Ann enjoyed the serenity of their lakeside home and the beach at St. George Island.
In the course of his long career, Greg's achievements were recognized through numerous awards and honors, including honorary doctorates from Loyola University and Chalmers University in Sweden, the Humboldt-Stiftung U.S. Senior Scientist Award (1979), the American Chemical Society Award for Nuclear Chemistry (1985), the Seaborg Award in Actinide Separation Science (1989), the Spedding International Award in Rare Earth Science (1996) and the Becquerel Medal for Nuclear Chemistry of the British Royal Chemical Society (2000). The Chemistry Wing of the Science Building at Loyola University bears his name, the "G.R. Choppin Wing," and FSU created the Gregory Robert Choppin Chair in Chemistry and Biochemistry in his honor. Both were endowed by his life-long friend Tom Benson.
There will be a private graveside service. A celebration of Greg's life and legacy will be held at a later date. Donations in Greg's memory may be made to the Alzheimer's Project, 301 East Tharpe Street, Tallahassee, FL, 32303. Todd Wahlquist with Bevis Funeral Home is assisting the family with their arrangements. 850-385-2193, www.bevisfh.com
Published by Tallahassee Democrat from Oct. 24 to Oct. 26, 2015.