A.M. Chassels III - obituary
11 November 1944 – 11 April 2022
Several years back while discussing death with my father, not a taboo conversation, he said “son, all I want when I die is for a little posting in the Royal Society of Chemistry”. He did not die with family by his side, having become isolated years earlier. That said, I very much loved him and present the below for the record.
I will recount who he was to me, not necessarily who he was to himself or others. This is my chemical memory, the least exact of concepts, especially as it is through the lens of a child towards a parent.
A.M. Chassels III was born on November 11th, 1944, in or about Glasgow, and died on April 11th, 2022, in Tucson Arizona. He had a standard upper-middle-class upbringing, that is, a less than encouraging father, and a desire to shield his mother from such. He did have a more prestigious grandfather, I believe a founder of the Glasgow Zoo, dog breeder, and Advocate. After leaving medical school, well frankly ahead of finishing it, he pursued his passions in chemistry. I think he was given 2 choices in life, be a lawyer or a doctor, so he became a chemist.
After some time with Ciba-Geigy Pigments in Paisley and Switzerland he, my amazing and encouraging mother, and sharp brother (his namesake) emigrated to Canada. He moved through the ranks ending in a senior role with Dominion Color. I remember him recalling they once had to contain a spill of chromium-based effluent in the ’70s. He said “son, there is a key lesson here, don’t overanalyze, trust your experience, and act. It will get you 90% of the way there.”
From Canada, we moved to New York where my father became Plant Manager for Uhlich Color Corp. Through the years he worked his way with luck and brains to become a leading shareholder and President of the company. It was a joyful time for us all and I remember fondly my summers watching him as I worked in the lab.
He taught me much and it reflects in my work life today. “I leave my desk and go to where the work is done. Not to oversee, but to know the names and lives of the people doing the work. I know who they are, who their families are, and where they are from. They are people, not tools. They are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters…not just a way to generate wealth for a few.”
After years of success, the tides shifted, but through this, he still loved his chemistry and sciences.
He went on to found ALESCO LLC with me in Tucson Arizona. We worked together for 5 years. He was smart, abstract, and eccentric. Together we worked to develop Larrea tridentata into a herbicide, reduce the number of processing steps in the transformation of Taxus Chinensis into Paclitaxel, extract natural colorings from grape marc and create uniquely modified speciality colorants.
In his waning years, on occasion, I would spend hours on the phone listening to his views on Time relative to Newtonian mechanics and Einstein’s theories. Mainly I just listened, as there is great value in listening for some and great comfort in talking for others. The content, its validity, or veracity was irrelevant.
He was my dad, a smart but challenging man whose love for chemistry flows through me into my child. I miss him. He leaves my mother, brother, wife, son Angus, and our extended families hoping he has a peaceful journey, whether as a wave or a particle or both through the universe.
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