John Withers Irvine Jr. PhD '39
Professor Emeritus John Withers Irvine Jr. PhD '39 died of a heart attack Monday at his Tuscon home. He was 84.
Irvine, a professor and the executive officer of the Department of Chemistry until his retirement in 1979, conducted classified research as a radiochemist in the Radioactivity Center during World War II.
He later said that some of the work he conducted included progress in the development of a process to preserve whole blood for transfusion for weeks instead of days. "People are prone to think of the atomic bomb as the only contribution," he said in 1949. "This is an error."
Irvine was born in Marshall, Mo. on July 15, 1913. He graduated from Missouri Valley College before attending MIT, where he received his doctoral degree and became a research associate in the Department of Physics.
After World War II, he was promoted to assistant professor, and then to professor in 1958. He also served as a senior chemist at the Clinton Laboratories in Oak Ridge, Tenn. during 1946.
Irvine also served as housemaster of Ashdown House from 1966 until 1973.
Irvine was a fellow of the American Academy ofArts and Sciences and a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society, and the Society of Sigma Xi.He also served as the first president of the Massachusetts branch of the American Orchid Society and was a member of the New York Rug Society and the Hajji Baba Club.
Irvine received honorary doctorates from Missouri Valley College in 1952 and the University of Ghent in Belgium in 1963.
Irvine is survived by his wife, Fredna Tweedt, three daughters, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.