Remembering Dr. Howard L. Stephens


H-StephensDr. Howard L. Stephens, Professor Emeritus of Polymer Science and Chemistry, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, January 24, at the age of 97.

Dr. Stephens was a good friend to many and did much for the polymer and chemistry programs at UA. He graduated from Akron Garfield High School and then entered the U.S. Army and served during World War II. After serving his country he enrolled at The University of Akron where he earned his BS in Chemistry, MS in Chemistry, and in 1960 his PhD in Polymer Chemistry. He worked in Professor Whitby’s lab on a project sponsored by the US Synthetic Rubber Research Program. It involved a new system (the peroxamine system) for initiating emulsion polymerization at low temperatures and led to a frequently cited publication [Whitby, Wellman, Stephens and Floutz, IEC, 42, 445 (1950)].

Stephens joined the Chemistry Department and the Institute of Rubber Research early in his career at UA and, along with Professor Maurice Morton, Director of the Institute, taught all of the UA polymer chemistry courses in the early 1950’s. Following Professor Morton’s retirement, he served as Chair of the Department of Polymer Science from 1978-1982. In 1990, he was awarded the G. Stafford Whitby Award for Teaching by the Rubber Division of The American Chemical Society.

Stephens is responsible for many authoritative publications. His research included efforts to modify starch for use as a filler in elastomers ($178K USDA grant 1966) and to develop polymer modified concrete. He was a solid, serious, generous colleague who never expounded on his outstanding qualities and accomplishments. He will be missed by everyone.

A funeral service for Dr. Stephens will be held 1:30pm Tuesday at the Hilliard-Rospert Funeral Home, 174 N. Lyman St., Wadsworth. Interment with Military Honors will follow at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery. The family will receive friends and celebrate Howard’s life 4:30-7:00pm Tuesday at the Galaxy Banquet Center, 201 Park Ctr. Dr., Wadsworth. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to: Cleveland Clinic Akron General Justin T. Rogers Hospice Care Center, 3358 Ridgewood Rd., Akron, OH 44333. A complete obituary appears in the Hilliard-Rospert Funeral Home website.