Dr James W Akitt - obituary
22 November 1931 – 12 August 2022
Tim Akitt was born in Kendal and gained a joint Honours degree in Chemistry and Physics at Manchester University in 1953. At University he also commenced a lifelong love of climbing, walking, alpine flowers and the mountains which were to culminate in his retiring to the French Alps in 1989.
After his national service, spent in Kenya, he worked for Glaxo Laboratories in Ulverston and then for Oxley Developments as Chief Chemist before moving to Newcastle University to take up research into inorganic NMR. He gained his MSc in 1966 and then moved to Leeds University in 1971 as a senior research officer.
He published his first book “NMR and Chemistry” in 1973, which became the seminal undergraduate teaching work in his field, and was updated several times until a 4th edition was published jointly with Dr Brian Mann in 2000. The volume of his publications led to him being awarded a DSc from Newcastle University in 1973.
He was the acknowledged world expert in the inorganic NMR field, spent a year working in Paris in 1980/1 at the Ecole Nationale Superior de Chimie as Associate Professor and lectured around the world in Europe and in North America. Becoming fluent in French he began skiing with his family in France in the 1970s and eventually retired there in 1989. He continued his interests in walking, skiing and alpine flowers while also continuing to update his “NMR and Chemistry” textbook. He also produced two walking books for the area – “Walking in the Tarentaise and Beaufortain Alps” in 1995 and “Walking in the Gran Paradiso” which was also translated into a French edition.
In 2010 after the death of his wife he moved to the Vaucluse where he continued his scientific interests and took up Mediterranean Gardening. Although bits of him didn’t work as well as they used to his mind was active right until the end when he died suddenly of a heart attack in his beloved garden. He outlived many of his contemporaries but will be sorely missed by his family.
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