Stan Denton was a distinguished and highly respected Forensic Scientist. He came from Huddersfield and in his late teens found himself in the Army and soon trained to be a specialist in explosives and ammunition. After the war, and now a W.O.1 he was stationed in Germany and involved in the inspection and disposal of munitions. On one occasion, on entering a munitions store, Stan and a colleague were unaware that it had been booby-trapped and the explosion threw Stan over a distance of seven or more yards, causing severe burns to his face and body, and broken ribs.
On a happier note, Stan met his future wife Ulla in Germany. She was working as a clerk in the 'Civil Labour Office' and Stan - who was by now an acknowledged expert in Munitions - was a regular visitor to that department. They married in 1947 and on returning to Huddersfield, Stan got a job as a Chemist with a dyestuffs company in Milnsbridge. He studied part-time at Huddersfield Technical College for LRIC and he regularly attended lectures by guest speakers. One of these was on Forensic Science and he was so impressed by it that when he got home he told Ulla that this was to be his future career. Therefore, in 1952, Stan moved to the newly established Forensic Science Laboratory at Gosforth, and he and Ulla settled in Whitley Bay.
Stan soon became responsible for investigating cases involving firearms, explosives, forgeries, and road traffic accidents - in fact any case which required instrumental analysis. He was also responsible for developing several methods to improve analysis. I first met him, when I was just 17, in 1966 when he interviewed me for the position of Scientific Assistant at the Gosforth Laboratory, where he was now Senior Experimental Officer. I was asked to go for a second interview but I had an illness that laid me low for nearly two months. Stan said he would wait, and I found out later that he was going to offer me the job anyway, but needed the Director to meet me first. After only a few months at the lab I was helping Stan with what was to be probably his most famous case known as 'The Fruit Machine Murder'.
Stan was a great teacher and I learnt so much about scientific techniques and the need for accuracy in analysis and reporting. He was assiduous in his attitude to preventing contamination of any kind when using the wide range of analytical techniques employed. I only stayed at the lab for 2 years as I felt that I needed a chemistry degree, and one day I was looking through Stan's 'Chemistry in Britain' and I saw an advert for a full-time course at Teesside Polytechnic, leading to Grad.R.I.C and I felt that as Stan had followed that route, I would do the same.
In the early 1970s Stan was promoted to Principal Scientific Officer and in 1977 when the decision was made to close the Gosforth Laboratory, he relocated to the Chepstow Laboratory. He and Ulla bought a house in Bristol, a city that they came to love. Stan was a very capable Table Tennis player and he continued playing for as long as he was able.
Unfortunately, I lost contact with Stan for many years until, in about 1985, I saw an announcement - in 'Chemistry in Britain' again - to the effect that Stan had retired. I wrote to the RIC asking if they would kindly forward a letter to Stan, which they did. Stan phoned me as soon as he received the letter and we maintained contact for the next 30 years by phone, letter and occasional visits. Whenever we were in touch the first topic of conversation was always 'The Fruit Machine Murder'.
Stan was a devoted husband to Ulla, his lovely wife of 69 years, who loved him dearly, and a loving father and grandfather. Stan was a good friend and an inspiration to me and is sorely missed.
Gerry Spoors C.Chem, FRSC