Bill Fateley and Ellis Lippincott: Remembering the Men Behind the Awards

Feb 01, 2013
Volume 28, Issue 2

Despite the prestige of the awards that bear the names of Ellis R. Lippincott and Willam G. Fateley, many spectroscopists know little about them. Here, we remember them, not just for their scientific achievements, but for the men they were.

At the 2012 SciX meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, the Coblentz Society, together with the Society of Applied Spectroscopy, sponsored a luncheon to benefit the award endowments honoring two renowned spectroscopists of our century: Dr. William G. Fateley and Dr. Ellis R. Lippincott. As part of the luncheon program, Bruce Chase and Peter Griffiths talked about the achievements of these two members of the spectroscopic community and shared personal stories about them.

A Colleague and Friend: Recollections of Bill Fateley

by Bruce Chase

We often use the phrase "colleague and friend" without a lot of thought about the true meaning of the phrase. We all have many colleagues but a significantly smaller number of true friends. For me, Bill Fateley was both.

Figure 1: Dr. William G. Fateley.
Over his career, Bill made many contributions to the field of vibrational spectroscopy. He published several texts on infrared and Raman spectroscopy, including a wonderful compendium of Raman group frequencies. He was one of the leading proponents of the advantages of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) in the early years of this technique. He used FT-IR as a remote sensing tool and established the validity of FT-IR as a tool to monitor atmospheric components. Bill also showed how Hadamard techniques could be used for infrared measurements. Yet, even though Bill's contributions to vibrational spectroscopy were significant, I believe his impact on the community was largely a result of his ability to bring young scientists into the field.

I first met Bill Fateley (Figure 1) in 1977 at the International FT-IR Conference held in Columbia, South Carolina. I was a newly minted analytical chemist at DuPont, and I was just starting to learn about Fourier transform spectroscopy. The major players in the relatively new field of FT-IR were there and, of course, it was not an easy task for an unknown to sit and talk with them. I asked a question at one of the plenary talks, and afterward, Bill came up to me and asked if he could talk with me. At that point, I was nearly speechless! Bill talked with me for half an hour and by the end of the week I had been asked to join the organizing committee for the 1981 meeting. This marked the beginning of a friendship that would last for more than 30 years. During those 30 years, I watched Bill be just as kind and caring to other young spectroscopists and make an effort to bring them into our community.

Figure 2: Kip Chase enjoying a ride on a horse that "Cowboy Bill" Fateley made for him.
Those young scientists who worked with Bill represent a big group who benefited from his friendship. In addition to the day-to-day contact with Bill, they also were able to meet other leaders in the field through attendance at meetings. This was a concept that Bill fully supported, and there were even times when he paid the bills out of his own pocket. The most memorable meeting in my mind had to be the 1987 Fourier Transform Spectroscopy (FTS) meeting in Fairfax, Virginia. Bill brought his entire group in the infamous mobile laboratory van that was part of an Environmental Protection Agency funded effort for remote monitoring. That van became the focus of almost all social events during the meeting. Bill's students, along with Peter Griffiths' group (Peter also brought his entire group), were the movers and shakers for all of the evening activities. One night, there were close to 80 people packed into the van. The driving force was the fact that the campus was technically dry, so the consumption of alcohol was limited to the inside of the van. It was an excellent example of a crystallographic closest packed structure!

Figure 3: Dr. Fateley's horse lives on for future generations, much like his legacy.
My friendship with Bill immediately extended to my wife Jamie and my son Kip. They both became very close to Bill and there was always at least one phone call a week. Kip's friendship with Bill was cemented very early. When Kip was three years old, Bill visited and stayed with us for the first time. When he arrived at the house, all Kip saw was a large man with a huge shiny belt buckle and pointed-toe cowboy boots. The man was immediately dubbed "Cowboy Bill." When Kip asked about the pointed-toe boots, he was told they were an absolute necessity for trapping cockroaches in the corners of a room and crushing them! Kip thought that was a wonderful thing. Two weeks after Bill's visit, a package arrived. The package contained a pair of pointed-toe cowboy boots just the right size for Kip. For the next several months I spent a lot of time cleaning scuff marks from the corners of every room in the house.

Figure 4: Bill Fateley (left) and Kip Chase (right).
Kip's history with Bill is summed up very nicely in the pictures shown here (Figures 2–5). Bill made Kip two wonderful rocking horses that Kip loved (Figures 2 and 3). The little blond-haired boy ended up working with Bill for a senior project in high school and actually published a paper with him while working at DOM Associates. Now the next generation is playing on one of those rocking horses, as Kip's son, Noah, maintains the connection with Cowboy Bill (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Bruce Chase's grandson riding Cowboy Bill's horse.
Friendship with Bill carried a certain element of risk. You knew you were a true friend when the practical jokes started. Jamie found this out the hard way. On another of Bill's visits, Jamie took him to the Brandywine River Museum to see an exhibit of Wyeth paintings. There was a series of paintings of a young woman named Helga, several of which were nudes. In this staid, conservative museum, Bill walked up to one of the paintings and loudly proclaimed to everyone within earshot that this painting was clearly a forgery, since he knew from personal experience that Helga had a mole over her left breast. Jamie tried in vain to disappear through the floor. Their relationship of friendly teasing continued for three decades.

Figure 6: Antique rolling pins serve as a personal reminder of Bill Fately for Bruce Chase and his wife Jamie.
Bill was just as generous with Jamie as he was with Kip. We still have multiple items in the house that remind us of Bill, including a wooden angel. The most precious to Jamie, however, is a collection of antique rolling pins. On one visit, Bill learned that Jamie had an old rolling pin that her grandmother had given her. For several years after that visit, packages containing antique rolling pins showed up on a regular basis. They now hang in the kitchen (Figure 6) as a daily reminder of our good friend, Cowboy Bill Fateley. Bill was truly a colleague and a friend, to me and to the entire vibrational spectroscopy community.

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