Remembering Jim Weber

Jim Weber

James H. Weber, emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of New Hampshire passed away on August 23, 2013. Jim spent his entire academic career in our department from 1963 until his retirement in 1998. He received a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University in 1959 and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Ohio State University under Daryle Busch in 1963.

A mainstay of the inorganic division for more than three decades here, Jim taught multiple versions of general chemistry as well as all undergraduate and graduate inorganic chemistry courses. He inaugurated “Chem 574- Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry” in 1991 and substantially modernized “Chem 775-Advanced Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory” numerous times. Jim always enjoyed challenging his classes and especially welcomed enthusiastic students.

After initial work on inorganic and organometallic projects, Jim’s research turned to environmental concerns. His group developed several methods for distinguishing bound and free metals in the presence of humic matter, the ubiquitous product of both animal and vegetable biodegradation. Later on his work focused on the environmental organometallic chemistry of tin, lead, and mercury. The Weber group was the first to develop reliable analytical methods for the determination of very low concentrations of these compounds through generation of their volatile hydrides. These techniques were applied to extracts of plants, algae, shellfish, and sediments of the Great Bay Estuary in New Hampshire. His research was supported by the federal agencies NSF, EPA, and NOAA as well as by NATO. Internationally recognized for his work disseminated in over 100 research publications, Jim delivered many invited lectures both abroad and in the US. He also served on the editorial board of Applied Organometallic Chemistry.

Around Durham, Jim could usually be seen commuting on his bicycle to and from his home on Garden Lane. Often in winter, he would wear bright Hawaiian shirts to remind everyone of warmer days. A community-minded person, Jim frequently participated in local organizations to help others. Representative was his initiation of the Think-Drink Alliance at UNH in 1995 aimed at curbing student alcohol abuse. Never one to shy away from controversial issues, Jim was a strong advocate for nuclear energy. He often spoke in favor of it and appeared in a publicity film for the Seabrook Nuclear Plant in the 1980’s.

Jim was an avid reader and enjoyed the theater and jazz concerts. He was an active participant in the Portsmouth Toastmaster’s Club for many years. Jim also enjoyed tennis, running, and hiking. A fervent angler, he was especially adept at locating secluded sites for striped bass fishing around the seacoast area.

After his retirement in 1998, Jim and Anne moved to Utah where he spent his time enjoying the great outdoors while continuing to do volunteer work for his community.  He is survived by his wife Anne, his son Nick, two daughters, Kathy and Susan, and a granddaughter Jennifer.