Albert K. Sawyer, Jr., 1918-2011

Albert SawyerAlbert K. Sawyer, Sr., 92, retired chemistry professor of Durham, N.H., died peacefully in his sleep on August 12 at Wilton, ME. His children feel blessed that he passed away at a time when they and other relatives were gathered for their annual family reunion.

Albert was born October 20, 1918 in New Sharon, ME, the first of six children of Arthur Burtt and Helen York Sawyer. He was raised on the family dairy farm, graduated as valedictorian of his New Sharon High School class in 1936, and went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from Colby College and Master’s Degree in Chemistry from the University of Maine.  He entered the U.S. Army in 1941, first attending officer candidate school and then rising to Captain and instructor in the U.S. Army Camouflage School at Mitchell Field, Long Island, NY.  After the War, he returned to Maine where he taught at the Brunswick Naval Annex before moving to the University of New Hampshire in 1949 where he taught until his retirement in 1985.  At UNH, he taught introductory and organic chemistry courses while having responsibility for all general chemistry labs.  He was often a judge at state science fairs and taught many workshops and courses for high school science teachers through National Science Foundation grants.  While at UNH, he researched organotin compounds, eventually gaining international respect for his work and editing a three volume set of reference books of major research in this field.

Albert married Marion Stephenson of Island Falls, ME, in New Sharon on December 21, 1941.  They raised five children while building their own home in Durham where they resided the rest of their lives.  After retirement, Albert turned his attention to a variety of interests, including gardening, reading and book collecting, poetry, researching the genealogy of his New England and European ancestry, and producing family manuscripts. He is especially remembered by his children for his loving care, along with the help of his sons Tom and Dave, for his wife Marion who suffered in her later years from dementia.  He is also remembered for his love and support for each of his children, for his enjoyment and playing of the piano and organ, and for his participation in family reunions.  In their later years, Albert and Marion particularly enjoyed visits and gifts from the children and staff of the UNH Child Study and Development Center, located up the road from their home, who stopped often to see their animals and flowers.  Albert was a lifelong member of the American Chemical Society, the Durham Community Church, and several other professional and personal organizations.

He is survived by his daughter, Kathryn and her husband Gerald Moerke of Honolulu, HI; Ken (Albert, Jr.) and his wife Terry of Wilton, ME; his sons Tom and Dave of Durham, NH; grandson Eric Sandstrom of Mountain View, CA; and great grandsons Gregory and Blake Sandstrom.  He is also survived by his brother Dr. Richard Sawyer and wife Norma of Raleigh, NC; sister Angie Bolotin of Escondido, CA; brother Arthur Sawyer and wife Lorrie of Brockton, MA; brother Malcolm Sawyer of Kingfield, ME; sister Blanche Robinson of Livermore, ME, and many special nieces and nephews.  He was predeceased by his wife, Marion, and their son Gregory.

A celebration of life memorial service will take place at the Durham Community Church Chapel in Durham, NH, on Saturday, October 15, 2011 at 2:00 PM.  Friends wishing to make memorial donations may do so to the Durham Community Church, Box 310, Durham, NH 03824 or to the New Sharon Methodist Church, New Sharon, ME 04955.