AKRON—Howard L. Stephens, a professor emeritus of polymer science and chemistry at the University of Akron, died Jan. 24 at the age of 97.
Stephens was a long-time professor at the university and also active in the ACS Rubber Division, serving as an instructor for the technical organization's courses.
After serving in the U.S. Army in World War II, Stephens enrolled at the University of Akron, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry, and then his doctorate in 1960 in polymer chemistry.
While at the university he worked in Professor George Stafford Whitby's lab on a project sponsored by the U.S. Synthetic Rubber Research Program that involved a new system for initiating emulsion polymerization at low temperatures.
His teaching career spanned more than 30 years, starting in 1950 as a research chemist. He retired in 1983 as the department head of Polymer Science at the University of Akron.
Stephens was published numerous times and was considered an expert in rubber technology and guayule rubber. His research also included efforts to modify starch for use as a filler in elastomers and to develop polymer modified concrete, according to the university.
In 1990 Stephens was awarded the Rubber Division's George Stafford Whitby Award for teaching.
Christie Robinson, the Rubber Division's director of training and development, said Stephens was an instructor for the organization years ago when she first started with the division.
"Howard Stephens loved teaching and sharing his knowledge of the rubber industry with his students and those new to our industry," Robinson said. "Howard was a dynamic instructor and was always eager to share his love of the rubber industry with those who came in contact with him. His energetic and positive attitude was contagious and will be missed."
Stephens was preceded in death by his wife, Marian, and sister, Dorothy Johnson. He is survived by daughter Dee Dee (Jim) Pifer; grandsons Matthew and Zachery Pifer; and several nieces and nephews.
Donations may be made to Cleveland Clinic Akron General Justin T. Rogers Hospice Care Center, 3358 Ridgewood Road, Akron, Ohio, 44333.