Dr. Comyns became a part-time visiting lecturer in industrial chemistry at the University of East Anglia, and was also an independent consultant and author, specializing in market studies for inorganic chemicals and materials, as well as an editor of scientific journals on catalysts and fluoride glass.
As a child, Alan loved visiting the Children’s Department of the Science Museum, where he recalled “you could turn knobs and see things work,” and the Natural History Museum. Alan’s interest in chemistry was sparked by receiving his first chemistry set at Christmas from his Uncle Reg when he was ten-years old. He spent time during the war years in an unused upstairs bedroom, where he conducted experiments on a bedside cabinet with a tiled top. From age twelve to sixteen, his love of chemistry experimentation continued, by being able to buy chemicals from a friendly pharmacist, and he also assisted his chemistry master at school as a laboratory assistant. Later in life, Alan spent twenty-five years amassing and synthesizing information to write, The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Named Processes in Chemical Technology, which has been published in four editions. Alan thought that this useful and important information had not been gathered or made easily accessible, and so he set out to provide this resource for the science community. He also edited the guidebook 2000 Years of Buildings for the Chester Civic Trust, and he edited and published the Chester U3A newsletter for many years.
Dr. Comyns was one of the founders of the Applied Solid State Chemistry Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He has been the chairman of the Industrial Inorganic Chemicals Group, and vice president of the Dalton Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry, chairman of the British Zeolite Association, and chairman of the Chester Archaeological Society.
Fueled by his curiosity and passion, Alan’s hobbies and interests were eclectic including archaeology, local history, collecting antique glass, genealogy, astronomy, botany, fungi and mushroom identification, classical music, poetry, French culture, wine and food, architecture, foreign films, crystallography and cats. He enjoyed reading, including the Daily Telegraph, which he read with intellectual engagement until the day he passed away.
Alan married his childhood sweetheart, Daphne Betty Roberts, in 1952, and they lived together until her death in November 2019. He was a loving father, and is survived by their three children, Bruce Comyns (Florida), Carmen Comyns (San Francisco) and Elizabeth Smith (Bexhill-on-Sea). He was predeceased by his sister, Mary Beagles.
Alan will be missed by family, friends and the staff of Earlsfield Court Care Home, where he lived for almost three years at the end of his life. Per his wishes, following cremation, Alan’s ashes will be scattered in a well-loved cove in Anglesey, Wales, where his wife’s ashes were scattered.