GREENVILLE, Del. (Dec. 17, 2009)—Herman E. Schroeder, a DuPont scientist noted for his work in specialty elastomers, and the 1984 winner of the Charles Goodyear Medal, has died.
The 94-year-old scientist died Nov. 26 in Greenville, according to an announcement from his family.
Schroeder was a brilliant scientist who excelled at management, putting people in the right place so they could succeed, said Ralph Graff, retired from DuPont, who spent many years working with Schroeder.
Schroeder spent 41 years with DuPont, retiring in 1979 as director of research and development in the Elastomer Chemical Division. During his career he contributed to the development of a number of well-known specialty elastomers, including Adiprene, Hytrel, Viton and Vamac.
His work with the copolymerization of vinylidene fluoride, hexafluoro-propylene and tretrafluoroethylene was the basis for DuPont's Viton fluoroelastomer.
His structure-property-relationship studies resulted in the development of Hytrel thermoplastic polyester elastomers.
Schroeder's personal direction led to the commercialization of Vamac ethylene/acrylic rubber, and Kalrez perfluoroelastomer.
The scientist also guided early studies that served as the foundation for Adiprene polyurethane and Nordel EPDM rubber.
A graduate of Harvard University with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a doctorate in organic chemistry, Schroeder joined DuPont's Chemical Department in 1938. He moved to the Organic Chemicals Department in 1946 as group leaders, became division head in 1949 and assistant laboratory director in 1951.
In 1957 Schroeder switched to the Elastomer Chemicals Department as assistant research director and was promoted to director of R&D in 1963. He served in that post until he retired in 1980.
Schroeder was a brilliant scientist who excelled at management, putting people in the right place so they could succeed, said Ralph Graff, retired from DuPont, who spent many years working with Schroeder and helping to commercialize the new rubbers.
Schroeder was quoted about his love for science in the announcement from of his death published by his family. He said “forces which impel me are largely the compulsion to look for the new, to change for the better, be it by finding better ways to do things or by inventing products to make the world function better. Gratifyingly, these often make the world aesthetically more pleasant and sometimes cleaner.”
Schroeder received the Charles Goodyear Medal, the Rubber Division's highest honor, in May 1984 at the association's meeting in Indianapolis. Graff said after he'd received the honor, Schroeder continued to be involved with the division, and was a member of its awards committee.
The International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers also honored the scientist, and in 1992 DuPont presented him with the Lavoisier Medal for Inspirational Research Leadership.
Schroeder held 37 patents, authored or co-authored 40 technical papers and edited numerous works on TPEs. He also served on a number of advisory groups, and even provided technical advice to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to help preserve art treasures.
Schroeder is survived by sons Edward and Peter; daughter Martha Lewis; seven grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.
The family encouraged donations in his name be made to the person's preferred charity.