Memoir - James McDonald Stewart (1931 - 2010)

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ACA History of Crystallography Project — James McDonald Stewart's response



James M. Stewart received the 2001 Fankuchen Award from the American Crystallographic Association for his suite of crystallographic computer programs, XRAY63, later known as XTAL. As part of the ACA History Project, he recounts here the influences that shaped his scientific career.


The charge given: What people or experiences influenced you to become interested in science in general and crystallography in particular? Were there mentors or colleagues who were important in your development as a scientist and crystallographer?

In the following summary generated in retrospect in the month of March 2010 I will attempt to answer these questions up to the point where my curriculum vitae data will give a picture of the life work and projects undertaken and accomplished.

The Early Years and First Stirring of Science Though not by That Name

I had the mixed good fortune to be born in Port Angeles, Washington in February 1931 at the time when the Great Depression was firmly established in the land. On the one hand it established a life view that remains useful to the present day and a challenge to my parents and extended family to care for an additional dependent. The immediate family constituted my first mentors. My father Charles R. Stewart, born in Selkirk Scotland (1888-1971), my mother Mary E. Stewart nee McDonald (1896-1989), my Aunt Margaret M. Alward nee McDonald (1892-1966), my uncle Charles W. Alward born in Maine (1892-1969), and my Aunt Anna I. Barnhart nee McDonald (1881-1958). The McDonald sisters were born on the upper peninsula of Michigan. It is true that none of them had more than six years of schooling except Aunt Anna who did enough training beyond to teach, until she married, in elementary grades in the mid-west at the turn of the 20th century. By the early years of that century they had all, except Aunt Anna, ended up in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada and then, following Aunt Anna's lead ended up near Port Angeles. Aunt Anna had married her teacher, Jacob Barnheart, and, after some additional training, teaching with him in the mid-west they had migrated to Dunginess, WA.

My assertion that they constitute my introduction to science rests, in part, on the examples I cite here. My father was a literate and a charming Scot that could quote Burns, some of the romantic poets, and sing in addition to his skill as a plumber and being dedicated to stamp collection and the geographic knowledge that instilled. He was, in the tradition of his father, a fisherman. His downside was addiction to ethanol. However, it meant that I got very early opportunities to see lead melted and used, pipes threaded with the difference between tapering pipe threads and cylindrical machine threads explained. When my parents got to Port Angeles they set up a plumbing business there which proved unsuccessful. It ended up that my mother, as she put it "kept the wolf from the door" by working in a local grocery store. She was a quick study and took in the details of the trade.

My Uncle Charlie was also a very interesting man. He arrived in Port Angeles with a wanted trade. He was an engineer on the Port Angeles and Western logging railroad. So that meant at a very early age I got to see and be held in the cab of the Shay locomotive that he drove. And as the years went by I got information from him on all sorts of aspects of the logging operations and the small farm operations connected to the Alward home base. Some of the lessons were frivolous such as the day I found out about an electric effect. Walking with Uncle Charlie from the house to the barn he held out his hand and said: "Take my hand Jimmy." Which I did only to find out that he, in his rubber boots, had his hand on the electric fence. Hello! Pay attention! On the other hand he allowed me pre teen opportunities to be included, with training and trust,  in farm operations. For instance first managing a workhorse in the process of mowing away hay and then in a year soon after, using the tractor for the same task. He and my dad included me in the process of cutting down and sawing up a great Douglas fir tree. I now grieve for that tree which supplied fuel for the family in those depression years. I won't go into all the details except this one. For stump and rock removal Uncle Charlie had in the tool shed a wooden box of stick dynamite and on a shelf the caps and fuses for detonating it. With careful warning he included me in watching him use the dynamite. And, of course, warned me in no uncertain way that I was never to undertake the process by myself. He was the least polished in his language of the family, but his knowledge and ability with the work of the world was still, in retrospect, impressive. He knew how to make "things" go.

 James MacDonald Stewart

Uncle Charlie (Charles W. Alward) and Jimmy (Stewart) 
on Port Angeles and Western Engine on Ediz Hook (1934).


My mother and aunts came from a different perspective. The McDonalds are a product of traditions I have not been able to trace, probably arriving, not by choice, from Britain to Canada at the time of the "clearances." The three women were each well versed in the northern survival farming skills required of women in the 19th century. My mother had a terrible inferiority complex made worse, I fear, by Bernice's and my excursions in academia. However, we and other friends, family, and her business contacts could recognize that she had a remarkable memory and skill at managerial matters. She broke the farming mode by becoming a telephone operator in Alberta. She advanced quickly in the ranks and was offered a supervising role, when she quit and married my father. When the plumbing business failed she and my father moved from Port Angeles to Bellingham Washington where she had learned of a grocery store that could be utilized in making a living. Aunt Anna and Uncle Jake had moved to the Bellingham region already, but I have no clue as to how the decision was reached to make the move. In spite of the problems their marriage contract was honored for 51 years, undoubtedly a mistake for both. It was left to me to reap the benefit. I like to say it was a marriage concocted in hell. A committed Women's Christian Temperance Union devotee and a dram fancying Scot! The classic naivety that love could trump ethanol was repeated. The result for me was to be dominated by her loving training. This started very early in terms of expectations for being a contributing member of the family. She had so many of those good old farm things to say prefixing a chore by such as: "Jimmy, while you're resting you may as well..." or:  "Jimmy, while you're up you may as well...." It meant that I was carrying kindling from the woodshed very soon after I could walk and delivering groceries for Stewart's grocery store from the time I was in grade school. Another big factor was the consistency of the treatment by the sisters. They all treated me as being able to understand and do. They must have thought that I had talent, but like Uncle Charlie and the electric fence lesson, they were careful to be sure I didn't get any ideas of myself that are like the ones being touted in the 21st  century about building self image. In retrospect an interesting thing was that those sisters didn't think kindergartens were a good thing. I didn't start school till the first grade when I was 7 years 7 months old. Contrast this with my wife Bernice who started very young, at 5 years and 3 months, then skipped a couple of grades. My feeling is that my mother wanted to fend off peer pressure as long as possible. She spent a good deal of time on anti alcohol indoctrination and pointing out taverns as places one should never enter.

The School Years

For some other reason I have no way of knowing the first grocery store in Bellingham didn't last long. My parents moved back to Port Angeles for a short time, but that didn't work out either so a second move was made to Bellingham and another grocery store was acquired that lasted till my mother's retirement. One year of schooling began in Port Angeles and then a move to Bellingham where 16 years of schooling followed. I remember very little about Columbia grade school in Bellingham and what I learned there. My memories are mostly the unpleasant one of being a misfit on the playground, inept at sports. However, I had the jobs to do for the grocery store and began my interest in cars and model airplanes. When the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941 I was nearly 11 years old and able with the use of my bicycle and its big basket to haul stuff for the grocery store from the wholesale markets in town as well as deliver orders to customers during those years of rationing. The war, as you remember, went on until on 6 August 1945, when a Boeing B-29, the Enola Gay, convinced Hirohito that the game was up. Those 4 years of after school hours were well accounted for and got me to Whatcom Junior High School.

The highlight in my memory of this time is the summers. In order, again I'm guessing, to keep me fully occupied, I would get to ride the bus and ferry back to Port Angeles and spend time with Aunt Margaret on the farm. In addition there lived in Port Angeles what I like to call, and maybe without justification, the Scottish Mafia. These consisted of the families of two Scottish sisters who I called "Aunt" Jean and "Aunt" Nan. They, along with Jean's husband McIvor Smith, were wonderfully kind to me and part of the no-nonsense tradition. More about McIvor and his brother Donald later. Being under Aunts Margaret, Jean, and Nan's watchful eyes gave me more training in the sciences. First the farm labor and all it entailed including being shared as day labor with other dairy farms in the area. But specifically the experience of going on slow trips along the rural road with Aunt Margaret looking for where the rural private phone line was in trouble such that our phone was out of service. Trips like this piqued my interest in how the whole system, when it worked, worked. Or on hearing the whistle of Uncle Charlie's engine announcing that his 16 hour shift was coming to the end meant a trip to the log dump site on Ediz Hook, the breakwater that forms the natural harbor of Port Angeles. There to be able to witness Uncle C maneuver the dumping operation car by car, letting the logs slide into the bay. And thus also see the operation of the engine turning scheme, a track configuration laid out as a Y not a turntable, and big engine maintenance barn. Moreover, I could ask my uncle questions about the power, the air braking, and other systems of the operation. Stuff you can now find out about on the Internet, but without the smells and sounds and personal attention of the engineer. Then, too, there was the care of animals, of the milking machines, of the cream separator and the care that had to be lavished on cleanliness. That being done in an environment where I was to be shoveling cow s*** into a wheelbarrow and hauling it to the midden to do my part. One particularly valuable role was being the one to run and clean the cream separator. Aunt Margaret milked two Guernsey cows. In those days the valuable product was the butter fat. The separator is a type of centrifuge that can divide the skim milk from the cream. The cream could be sold to the local dairy and the skim milk can be added to otherwise waste food stuffs into slops for the farms pigs, who, to mix a metaphor wolf it down. The device consists of a crank for motive power, an upper chamber for the raw milk, a stack of pleated disks on a central shaft and two chambers with spigots, one for the less dense cream, the other for the more dense skim milk. Assembling it, using it, being its power source, and finally cleaning it was also training not commonly available to the majority of my classmates.

The Whatcom Junior High

But then the fun began in earnest when I moved from grade school to Junior High leaving my playground hazing behind me with no regrets. There must have been some learning that went on there as well, but so much for the kinetics of memory. I can remember the Bellingham Public Library, already old at the time. It was before it was torn down, built on a local sandstone foundation out of wood clad in sandstone facade. The floors creaked and the smell of the wood, probably including cedar as well as Douglas fir, was marvelous. It gave me access to stories I still treasure such as the now politically incorrect L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the thirteen sequels that he wrote about fantastic creatures and situations.

In the Junior High there was drafting with Mr. Kolstad, metal and wood shop, literature courses, math courses, and in 9th grade earth science with Mr. Stromme, who in addition to presenting new material such as minerals, natural cycles and so on, had a 1930's era Studebaker coupe with a Borg Warner overdrive. By this time my mother's entertainment of Sunday afternoon walks from the store to the local car dealer's lots had me reading everything I could on find in the library on cars and their machinery. I knew the names of many of the old and pretty much all the new models and their features and could, on sight, identify them from nearly any angle. If you are still reading you are probably thinking: What a waste of time. To top Junior High off there was photography, which I got into, learning about taking pictures, developing and printing them from Mr. Kolstad. That was a new thrill. It also led to jobs at two studios and one photography shop in the senior high years. And certainly proved useful all the way through graduate school. It also opened up a post on the yearbook taking activity pictures. This led to learning about the use of and running of a Mimeograph machine for the actual production of the yearbook, The Klahowya, itself. The English and English literature interests were further enhanced by Miss Hostetter and Miss Pope, while I got a not very well absorbed Latin grounding from Miss Shagren. I still have yellowing copies of the 1945 and 1946Klahowya in their primitive Mimeographic production. In one I find a handout from Mr. Stromme on A Classification Of Some Common Sedimentary Rocks, with details involving classification and physical observations and some introductory chemical properties. As to MissThune, the math teacher I remember nothing, but see from my transcript that algebra started in the 9th grade.

Bellingham High School (BHS)

I'll preface this by showing the transcript records I've obtained from the Junior High and High school records:

Seventh Grade: Initiative, dependability, and imagination make Jim a group leader. Courteous and friendly; a keen sense of humor; interested in music. President of home room and student council rep.

Eighth grade: No comments.

Ninth Grade: Activities include traffic squad and camera club. Outside activities have sometimes interfered with his schoolwork.

Tenth Grade: F-46 Photographer / Staff Photographer for Beacon (BHS newspaper). Eleventh Grade: F-46 Camera Club President.

Twelfth Grade: F-48 Beacon; Alchemists; Sound system operator; (other illegible activities).

The transcript shows that I graduated 98th in a class of 333. The ninth and twelfth grade comments tell the story.

High school then presented even greater opportunities with more math, but in that day and time ending with trigonometry with Mr. Jewell, and chemistry! with Miss Kaufman, in addition to English with Miss Mary Agnes Perry and the Romantic poets. Mr. Jewell was a great guy! He was basketball coach, math teacher, assistant principal, and in the summers salmon fisherman, tall and powerfully built. His trig classes were very well managed with no nonsense. And better than that he protected the wimps and nerds of that era. For example, hearing a commotion at noon in the main hall he appears and sees that some jocks are blocking the pantywaists from getting where they want to be. So he grabs the guy he knows well to be the instigator and slides him in a crash into the hall lockers and says as I'd like to remember exactly but can't: "That's enough — cut it out or I'll get rough" and goes back to the office. The exact words I don't remember, but the clang of the locker sticks in my mind and the relief of his protection in my memory. Long years after I heard an Irish Catholic priest rationalize corporal punishment for school boys by saying, and this time I'm sure it is verbatim: "Ah, yes, but the boys haven't yet reached the age of reason."

Miss Perry was a tall English major's English major. She was in deadly earnest about novels, poetry, and Shakespeare. (See The resistance of most of the males in the class was total disdain, but when I found things like Shelly's "Skylark":

We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

Or Macbeth's ambition played out in the best Scottish tradition.

Or one from Homer's Odyssey that tells about Antinous' fate at Odysseus' gentle hands in his wooing of Penelope. I've used on myself as a reminder many times and as food for thought for children, grandchildren, and others I've taught to drive. As an example of Miss Perry's over 50 long years' reach, consider this note written to a grandchild I'd taught to drive back just a few years ago.

The reason I was looking for the Odyssey today was to point out Antinous to you. You may remember that in Book XXII Odysseus has gotten home, clued the clueless suitors by stringing and shooting his bow that none of them could handle, and setting them up in the main hall of his palace to be slaughtered. Since it was just at about the same time as the incident described above that I had read the Odyssey I thought about the significance of proud, young, virile Antinous. There he was: party boy in charge, everything going his way, full of joie de vivre, about to enjoy a big swig of Odysseus' vintage wine, with as Homer put it: "thoughts of black death far from his mind." That was when Odysseus let him have it with an arrow. It is that joy of running a nifty machine that can drive thoughts of black death from our minds. I hope you'll remember this and live and let live for a long, long time.

It didn't take me long to find out that it didn't take, because soon after a grandchild totaled my car on a solo run. Such is life. My mother's characterization of adolescence was: "Going over Fool's Hill."


It was Miss Kaufman who was the most telling influence at this stage of life. In spite of the distraction of other courses and all my nifty jobs, she really brought great stuff to my attention. She was dedicated to the subject and took time to supervise the Alchemists after-school club, where we got to do many interesting laboratories. In this day and time these kinds of activities have become inaccessible to beginning chemistry students. For example — we synthesized rayon and nylon, we built a mercury barometer, and we generated oxygen from mercury oxide by heating it in a test tube with a Bunsen burner. She left us well prepared for first year college chemistry.

She was an important mentor who commanded and got my full attention and trumped "Outside activities have sometimes interfered with his school work."

Other Important Influences at High School

An outside distraction that I found helpful was getting a part-time job with a local "sound man," Mervil Dickinson who owned a sound system business in Bellingham. That was when I went into my hi-fi audio stage brought on by my experience in the HS public announcement job. Mick, as he was known, was another source of valuable information and training. I spent many evenings and Saturdays learning about amplifiers and circuits in his shop while I continued to help out at the store some and worked at the photo shop. One of the great things about Mick, over and above his humor, was that his father had owned one of the local hotels around the beginning of the 20th century. From this he had acquired two magnificent frame houses, one on Garden Street in Bellingham, the other on Lummi Island in Puget Sound. The house on Lummi Island was originally built by a salmon "fishing" entrepreneur. The house was located at the northeast end of the Island opposite the mouth of the Nooksack river. In the '70s Mick's daughter ,who was living there, did something that led to its burning to the ground. The entrepreneur was a typical 19th century type in that he simply built a fish ladder attached to a cannery on the tip of the island so that the salmon run on the way to the Nooksack swam right into the cannery, a wonderful ecological disaster! The salmon built him a magnificent house with big airy rooms with views looking over the sound to the south and west and across the water to the Cascade Mountains to the east.

Then there was my buddy and friend Ralph Robertson. Ralph and I hit it off right away. We met at Whatcom Junior High in Bellingham and palled around for the six years until at graduation our paths parted. Ralph's father was the captain of a salmon fishing boat that was in Alaska during the summers and his mother was an elementary school teacher. We were both compromised by lack of ability in sports and very interested in "things." Unfortunately my interest was mostly outside schoolwork whereas Ralph was very conscientious in that aspect of our lives. The result was my poorer class standing than his valedictorian achievement. He was awarded a scholarship to Harvard and graduated from that school and then went on to medical school there as well. After medical school he did residency in surgery and got into the beginnings of heart transplanting starting on dogs. This landed him a professorial position at the University of Oregon Medical School in Portland. This separation in our paths meant that I only saw him rarely in the years after high school. You would think that our paths were by then not that far apart, but there was something else going on that I didn't learn of till many years had passed. On a trip through Portland I called his home where his young son answered the phone. When I asked for Ralph the boy answered: "He doesn't live here any more." So I asked if I could reach him where he'd moved. The boy volunteered a phone number, but added: "But there's no use calling. He won't answer. He just drinks all the time." On finally getting to talk to his wife we learned that when Ralph got to Harvard away from our mutual anti-alcohol upbringing, he was a quick convert and had told his wife that once he got drinking he had found his life's desire. He had enough intellectual horsepower that, like several department chairmen and colleagues I worked for and with over the years, he kept going in the system. The medical fraternity tried to help by sending him to a couple of detoxification centers, but to no avail. So at the time I talked to his son he was "living" on skid row in Portland. It didn't take long until he died of his addiction. It is a sad story only peripherally related to my education, but a cautionary tale that has very little traction with succeeding generations unless they live, like I did, and see the results up close.

The other great distraction was that I finally met a girl who went out with me on a regular basis. She was very attractive with a classical romantic name: Barbara Allen. The relationship got very thick and we contemplated marriage, which I rejected since I had no means of providing anything in the way of a good job and knew my mother thought men marrying before their mid thirties was sinful. The other saving thing was that she went off to Marietta, OH on a scholarship. Her uncle was president of the college at that time. It wasn't long till I got a "Dear Jim" letter telling me she'd found a WW II vet on the GI bill and was now loyal to him. Bright as she is she did not finish college, but dropped out for marriage. In the last few years through the HS alumni association we have been corresponding by e-mail and covering what we've accomplished in the intervening 50 years. An interesting fact is that she now lives in Port Angeles.

Western Washington College of Education

The name of the college has changed over time.  See

Western was established by Phoebe Judson in Lynden, Washington as the New Whatcom Normal School, a teachers' school for women. Eventually the school moved to Bellingham (then "New Whatcom"), and through the efforts of William R. Moultray and George Judson (Phoebe's son), Governor John McGraw signed legislation establishing the New Whatcom Normal School on February 24, 1893. The first official class entered in 1899, composed of 88 students.

The institution that is now Western Washington University has since undergone several name changes. In 1901, the school's name was changed to State Normal School at Whatcom to reflect New Whatcom's name change. Again, in 1904, the name was changed to Washington State Normal School at Bellingham when the townships of Whatcom and Fairhaven joined, and again in 1937, to Western Washington College of Education when it became a 4-year college. Twenty-four years later it became Western Washington State College and finally, in 1977, the institution gained university status.

When I graduated from HS I simply started at Western Washington College of Education. It was close, cheap, and would admit me. In those days the state was still committed to John Knox's idea that boys and girls should know how to read Holy Scripture. His original Book of Discipline published in 1560 called for a national system of education in Scotland. Places like the Bellingham Normal School, which evolved into Western Washington College of Education and then later to Western Washington State University, are part of his grand vision, but the pious motives have long ago passed away! The fees in 1949 were $25 per quarter plus the cost of books. That $25 in 1949 is the same as $189 in 2002. One can see that the state has taken less and less interest in supporting of the training boys and girls since 1949. In fact the 2008 in-state tuition is posted on the Internet as $1,736 per quarter! Books are estimated at $963. John would be pissed! But, then, maybe not when he saw how far the course content had diverged from his focus. It should also be noted that it was 100 years before the Scots actually put the concept into practice.

So you can see that my matriculation was in the WWCE time frame. I think what got me to the far side of Fool's Hill was the realization of Ralph and other peer's status brought on by paying attention to what should have been my highest priority too, i.e., the coursework. I got off to a pretty good, but imperfect start at WWCE. I recognized the consequences of my failure to pay attention to my studies in HS. I knew that in many ways I knew more and could do more than Ralph, but I'd never taken the time and effort to demonstrate it in a classroom unless it was something that attracted me or I could apply at that moment. The first quarter and the start of the sophomore year was a jolt in that I got some Cs, but chemistry was my strong suit, which was consistent. My talent there got me a job, starting in the sophomore year, in the science department as a laboratory assistant, stocking reagents and maintaining, as directed, the stockroom. That lasted until graduation.

It also gave opportunities to exercise some optional chemistry as I worked my way over Fool's Hill. A memorable one being reading about a lecture demonstration where one could make a pile of potassium chlorate, dissolve a stick of white phosphorous in carbon disulfide, pour the solution over the chlorate and step back, way back. So on a cool, bleak Pacific Northwest winter day with two accompanying fools we went on a Saturday morning to a parking lot on the WWCE campus. Placed the chlorate on a big filter paper, poured on the phosphorous solution and stepped way back. Nothing, long time, still nothing, so we got close enough to toss lit wooden matches at the pile. All of a sudden it began to smoke and WHAM! A report of glorious magnitude. I had turned my head to the right so my left ear was toward the blast. My first thought was that we might have put out the windows in the facing building, but it was OK. Whew! However I have borne the consequences of that juvenile act with a slight deafness and a ringing tinnitus that has kept on for about 60 years.

WWCE Mentors

The mentor who got me on the rails in the first quarter of the sophomore year was Professor Johnston (sp?) who somehow came to the college to teach math. His background consisted of working for Werner von Braun in Alabama. I haven't a clue to what led him to that move. On getting a C in first quarter calculus, I consulted him on where I'd gone wrong. And he told me straight up, "You don't work up to your potential. From now on work every problem in the text until you have the patterns in your head." I took him seriously and it worked. By the end of my senior year I was in the straight A mode.

Two other mentors from the WWCE days played important roles in my life.  The first was Professor Fred Knapman. I find on the Internet some history of that era at WWCE, ( where I see not only pictures but also a picture of our laboratories and one with a picture of my other mentor, Glenn Booman, as well. The write-up has this to say about Knapman:

Fred W. Knapman was the primary person involved in establishing the chemistry program at Western. He began his career at Western as a student in the 1930's. In 1933 he secured a position as an assistant in the science department, where he washed glassware and prepared laboratory demonstrations at a wage of 25 cents per hour. He graduated from Bellingham Normal in 1934 and became a teacher in Lewis County, Washington. In 1938, Fred earned a masters degree in chemistry at the University of Washington. Later, he completed a doctorate in education at Columbia University. Fred returned to Western as a chemistry instructor in 1942. He had a brilliant career here where he served as an effective advocate for the sciences, a leader in building a new science building, and as an administrator. It can safely be stated that Fred Knapman is the founder of the modern era in the chemistry program here at Western. He was a strong force in the building of Haggard Hall of Science in 1960 and managed to persuade Linus Pauling to speak at the building's dedication. Most of the faculty that were recruited to Western in the 1960's remember being entertained at Fred and Frances Knapman's home on Chuckanut Drive. When Fred retired in 1974, he had served the college as a professor of chemistry, chairman of the science department, chairman of the chemistry department, and dean. Shortly after retiring, Fred and Frances started the Knapman Scholarship Fund.

Finding this site brought back many great memories. The picture on the WWCE history page captioned "Professor Kermit Bengston in Old Main 1950-51," shows Bengston in the background with my other main mentor, Glenn Booman in the foreground, with a funnel draining some opaque liquid into a Florence flask. The young woman listening to the professor is Joanne Irvin, one of my high school peers, from the Ralph Robertson, Laura Irvin, Shirley Goetz clique.

I took freshman and quantitative chemistry from Bengston and sophomore organic from Knapman. Knapman was pivotal in my training and we became friends who kept in touch until his death. In the history is mentioned the lecture by Linus Pauling. It was pure Pauling and a tour de force speech on his sickle cell anemia elucidation. Pauling was a crystallographer and I did have other chances later in life to hear him speak. He was always a hit.

As for Glenn Booman he was my new friend to replace Ralph, a very talented young man from Lynden, WA, north of Bellingham. He was two years ahead of me in age and miles in scholarship. He and I had many projects in chemistry that we tried, such as like picking up a key-hole bottle opener that had been dropped in a parking lot and deciding to resurrect it. We took it to the lab and polished it with a buffer wheel, then copper-plated it, buffed it some more, and finally nickel-plated it. Some projects were more ambitious such as restoring a 1930's vintage Frigidaire refrigerator with a magnificent brass compressor. We found out the hard way when we disassembled it that the reason for the brass was that it had SO2 as the refrigerant gas! But, after fleeing the lab we came back and finished the job of making it operational again. We gave it to my Aunt Anna to replace her icebox.

Glenn's scholarship also brought me to improve mine, but not enough to reach his level. He went off to UW to graduate school to become an analytical chemist. He finished all his requirements and thesis before he'd met the residency requirement so he was forced to stay on for a couple of more quarters before his degree was awarded. He then went to work at the Reactor Test Station in Arco, Idaho, There he worked on analysis of cations, especially Actinide ones by dropping-mercury electrodes. Upon retiring he worked for the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission (UNAEC) based in Austria. He and his wife enjoyed those years abroad. An interesting side issue was he and the whole family became Bahais,, which made the work on the control of plutonium in the world of great significance to him. We remained life-long friends. He died in 2009 in Salt Lake City, UT where his daughter lives.

The last two distractions I will confess were a type of quasi-mentor.

The next significant step in life was to be getting married and starting graduate school. In order to explain the getting married part it is necessary to tell about what brought it to pass. In my junior year at WWCE a young temporary teacher named Bernice Dorren showed up to teach the fall genetics class that I had signed up for. She was just graduated from the UW and hired at the last minute to take the place of a biology professor who was taken seriously ill and needed a year's leave for recovery. Bernice is a very talented soul and had graduated from high school the day after her 16th birthday. She had also registered with the jobs listing at UW and they put her in touch with WWCE. She was not much older than the class members. Over time I got to visiting with her and learned that she was not an automobile driver, but wished to be. So I volunteered to be her driving ed instructor. The course went on just fine at least until we got to the parking stage at which time we got slightly diverted. At the end of the year we made commitments, which have lasted to the current time, just less than 57 years. After her tour of duty at WWCE was completed she went off to Tacoma Washington and taught at the Anglican Annie Wright Seminary, a private girls school there. It was in the chapel there on 20 June 1953 that we were married. After the wedding we drove back north to Seattle to an apartment across from the UW entrance nearest the chemistry building.

A summer employment opportunity gave me my next big chance. It came from McIvor Smith, who with his brother Don owned Smith's Ice and Bottling Works in Port Angeles. He invited me to work in the bottling works in Port Angeles during the summer of 1951. This gave me two summers' work and then a third summer at the independent Bellingham bottling works. Both places bottled Pepsi-Cola, Hires Root Beer, 7-Up, Nesbitt's Orange, and their house-brand cream soda and grape soda. It was a job I really enjoyed. First of all it was applied science, especially chemistry. Second, one could see at the end of the day the results of one's efforts. In addition to the actual production work Ivor asked me to help with the way the bottling was carried out. This gave me the opportunity at age 20 to supervise men twice my age and to demonstrate for the boss "how it should be done." A wonderful opportunity to apply my minimal training to that date. It was a lot of fun to have that much responsibility and have someone pay me for taking it. I'll always think fondly of Ivor Smith. When I graduated from WWCE he called and offered me a job. By then I was already thinking about graduate school and about to be married to Bernice. It was a great temptation and I suspect that I could have worked into the business. But by then, I had serious academic ambitions. Every once and a while I wonder what if...

Graduate School at the University of Washington in Seattle

My applications to graduate school were guided by Knapman and covered schools in many parts of the country. Unfortunately, I chose not to keep the letters with offer and rejections. The three I'm sure of are UW, University of Chicago, and Syracuse. I think maybe Columbia as well since Knapman had been a student there. My choice was pure country rube. Stick close to home and the known. I was 16 before I had made it over the Cascades to Ellensburg, and 18 before I made it to Spokane to kiss Barbara goodbye. Then, too, if I flunked out I still knew we could get help at Stewart's grocery and probably jobs in the Bellingham or Port Angeles area. I also knew about Glenn's situation in Analytical Chemistry at UW so the die was cast betting on UW.

The thing about this was the folly of getting married on Saturday and starting graduate school on Monday. Two attention-demanding activities taken on at one time, especially considering the distraction power of young love. But the necessity to keep gainfully employed overpowered the serious consideration that should have been brought to bear on the consequences.

Monday morning I met with the chemistry department chairman, Paul Cross, a distinguished spectroscopist, cigar chain-smoking, whiskey-addicted, alpha male. My original intention was to become an analytical chemist since the only two aspects I really had come in contact with at WWCE were organic and analytical and I did not feel much attraction to organic as a specialty. When I told him of my interest in analytical he said, in essence, "We have too many analytical chemists now. You should work for Lingafelter. He has a research grant that will support you this summer. You have not had physical chemistry yet and will start in the fall to take that. For summer school take the seminar course and the matrix algebra course in the math department." I, of course, in my egregious naivety agreed to the plan.

By the time I got to UW Professor Lingafelter, an X-ray crystallographer, was still involved in research on micelles. This work was inherited from the time he came to UW having graduated with distinction from Berkeley. He came to be an aid to Professor Tarter who was the department chairman at that time and a "soap" chemist. A soap or detergent is a compound that possesses a hydrophilic, or polar, part and a hydrophobic, or non-polar part. When placed in water the polar part dissolves in the water and the non-polar parts agglutinate together to form things that are called micelles. If some greasy non-polar material is placed in the water, that grease will be dissolved in the non-polar part of the micelle and can thus be flushed away in the surrounding water part of the mixture. The nature of the work I was assigned to do was to measure the average molecular weight of micelles formed by many different bipolar molecules by measuring vapor pressure lowering of water solutions of them.

In 1953 the discovery of transistors was rather recent and among the solid-state devices that were introduced were thermistors which are remarkable for their very large resistance change as a function of temperature. One older method for the determination of molecular weights uses slight changes in temperature to find the molecular weight of the dissolved substance. The beginning of this project required me to build a thermostat, which would regulate to 0.001 C, then to build an apparatus in which to place the thermistor to be able to be in contact with the micelle solution to be analyzed. All this involved not very thrilling techniques and on top of that would have required the synthesis via organic compounds to produce some of the detergents to be characterized. It was the tail end of an era of study. Fortunately, the computers came along and I got moved over to do crystallography, cutting-edge stuff. I worked diligently at the micelle project for that summer and much of the next year, but then got my reprieve. The greatest thing about this change was that it involved computers. The first computers that I got to work with were located in the administration building. The research people got to use them on second and third shift. They were early IBM accounting machines. Professor Lyle Jensen had mastered their use for doing Fourier analysis of crystallographic data and I got a chance to be a "helper." But before too long the research people got their own computer, an IBM 650. In this case I was very fortunate as I got sent to a school to learn how to program it.

The joy of the summer of '53, of course, was the low level honeymoon; the curse was the matrix algebra course of Beaumont and Ball, a rigorous branch of mathematics that I did and do not have a natural talent to comprehend even though I eventually made much, much use of it during the years that followed. To my undying humiliation, which has plagued me for the rest of my life, I got a D in the course that summer. Fortunately, I didn't get kicked out of graduate school and I had to repeat the course in the following summer. But, as Bernice will tell you in detail, my lack of being able to be a first string player in the mental department caused me and, therefore, herself a lot of angst. It still does. It is hard to only be able to know about people whose perception is so incredibly detailed and to follow their lead with difficulty, but not to be able to play the game the way they can.

During the day at the university there was first the teaching assignment, the breadwinner, to deal with. This got more complicated as the years went by because I was given more responsible positions. Toward the end I was the head honcho for the freshman chem labs. Second was my own course work and the business of seminars and trying to prepare for the cumulative exams that were given, as I remember, six times a year. I think over a three-year period you had to pass something like six of these exams to be admitted to candidacy. It took me a long time to achieve the goal, but I made it in due course. The rule was that if you didn't you were flunked out with a master's degree and invited to leave. It wasn't so daunting that many suffered that fate. The only question I remember from all that is: "What is meant by the statement: The redundancy of the English language is 0.5?" There must have been some paper or seminar on statistics that I was completely unaware of, probably having to do with statistical mechanics in some arcane way. Searching the Internet 52 years later gets this brief statement: "The index of coincidence is a statistical measure of the redundancy of text. Around 1920, William Friedman published the article, "The Index of Coincidence and its Applications in Cryptography." So there you go. You take it from here. And, also in this educational part of my job there was coursework for those years. I came from WWCE deficient in the chemistry courses of a usual bachelor's degree in chemistry so I had a lot of make-up undergraduate work to do before ever I got to the graduate level stuff. And the last part of the job was to begin to produce some results in the thesis part of the program. This meant being active in the Lingafelter group and making contributions to the crystallography effort. This, of course was the most appealing part. By the nature of the progression it started out very slowly and as the teaching duties faded away, and the course work got taken care of, the research finally came to be the main focus. In one of the last years of my five as a graduate student I was given summer support through Lingafelter's grants and for one year I was given a Proctor and Gamble fellowship, which was a great boon.

At UW the first computers were acquired by the university administration for doing the bookkeeping required to run the university. It turned out that these punched card IBM accounting machines were only needed for one shift, the day shift, to process all the accounts of the university. Therefore, Lingafelter, Jensen, and others petitioned the administration for permission to use the machines during the other shifts and on weekends. After some negotiations, which from my low, low status I never knew about, it was set up that the machines could be used at off hours by the research groups. The condition was that we would keep track of usage and the research grants would be charged accordingly. I hate to admit it but this led to quite a bit of dissembling on the part of us grunts. Dissemble is a soft word for deception. Actually it was thievery if the truth be told. The grants were limited so we knew that if we recorded all our minutes we would soon be out of computing power. We hauled in our own paper and cards and carefully, before dawn, cleared the bins of a portion of the chad, the small pieces of cardboard produced in punching cards. These machines were programed by placing plug wires in boards, which could be placed in the machine. For a really interesting story of their first use, written by an amazingly gifted scientist Richard Feynman, I suggest you read his book Classic Feynman as edited by Ralph Leighton and published by W. W. Norton & Company in 2006. In it, among the other amazing exploits, he describes the use of machines like these for calculations done at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bomb.

The machines we had access to were IBM key punches, reproducing card punches, and sorters, an IBM 604, and a IBM 401. The 604 was a state of the art device that could carry out about 60 arithmetic steps taking numbers that were punched in the input card stream and adding punched results into blank columns on the card. You can see a picture at, where it says:

The IBM 604 Electronic Calculating Punch with Type 521 Card Reader/Punch, 1948. The 604 performed addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division hundreds of times faster than any of IBM's earlier electromechanical machines, and was the first IBM product to use modular vacuum-tube based pluggable units, later used in IBM's NORC and 701 computers. The 604 was programmable via plugboard and could execute a program of up to about 60 steps. Footprint: 53 by 33 inches; contained 1100 vacuum tubes and 125 relays. Power consumption 7.59 kVA. Weight: 1949 pounds. More than 5000 were sold (or, rather, rented at $645 per month, 1948 dollars, for the 604 and 521).

The 401 was a much less capable machine in that it simply acted as an "adder." It, however, was essential in making the sums required in Fourier analysis, a central calculation in crystal structure analysis.

You can see the 407 at:, where it says:

The IBM 407 Accounting Machine (1949). This was the last and best of the all-electromechanical IBM accounting machines (previously known as tabulators). The 407 reads a deck of punched cards on their integrated card reader (left), accumulate totals, subtotals, or other simple statistics in counters made of gears, and print the results on their integrated 132-column line printer (center). Speed: 100 to 150 cards per minute (the 407 replaced the earlier typebar printing technology with a much faster print wheel mechanism). As with all IBM punch-card equipment (except the key punch and sorter), a control panel (left) is wired to specify the details of operation: what card columns to read and what to do with them, how to format the report. Although the 407 is really just a big adding machine, creative use could be made of the control program.

Lyle Jensen led the way in setting up the procedures needed to calculate electron-density maps and structure factors. These were two very time consuming operations that at first we had to do using mechanical calculators. These machines allowed one to do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division by a gear driven mechanism. To do the required calculations "by this hand method" could take days of tedious use of these machines. The IBM machines reduced the time to hours. Their use required many passes of the cards in a correct sequence through the various machines, a thing that kept us busy for many nights, but it was a great leap forward. Then a new machine appeared. This one dedicated to research. The university got in an IBM 650, which got housed on the top floor of the chemistry building. It was a much more powerful machine, which you can see at:, where it gives this description:

The 650 is a vacuum-tube logic, drum-memory, decimal — not binary — computer. Data is stored in words containing ten decimal digits and a sign, and instructions operate on numbers stored in this format. IBM called the 650 an automatic calculator, not a computer:

One of the most exciting achievements of our generation is the development of the electronic automatic digital calculator. Although any schoolboy can perform any operation done by the calculator, the speed and economy with which the calculator does them is so great that automatic calculation is revolutionizing large areas of science, engineering, business, industry, and defense. A single giant calculator can do more arithmetic than the entire population of the United States could do with pencil and paper. Until the mid-to-late 1950s, the word "computer" referred to people who performed computations, not to machines. But before the decade was out, "digital computer" applied to the 650 and other "giant brains" and a "calculator" was the clunky thing on your desk.

Here was a machine that could hold a stored program of the kind envisioned by Alan Turing in his paper Computable Numbers published in Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society in 1937. It is worth your while to read about this tragic genius in The Man Who Knew Too Much by David Leavitt, Atlas Books 2006.

It was on the IBM 650 that I got my first taste of computer programming. In my life it was the most amazing intellectual pleasure I'd ever had or have had. It involved bringing to bear all the step-by-step details required to process raw data into useful results. Moreover, the 650 brought its own complications to problems. For example the storage, by today's standards, was very minimal. Just two thousand 10 decimal "words." 20 kBytes if you will. That space had to hold the program and any data needed in the calculation. The memory medium was a rotating drum. This led to the problem that in order to fetch words from the drum quickly, the programmer had to take into account that as the drum rotated if instructions were not issued in a timely way, the registers in which the calculations were carried out would be delayed until the next required word rotated to the "read or write head." A table existed that gave the programmer the number of words that would pass by the read head while an addition was carried out. A multiplication, since it's a series of additions took much longer. So you had to be sure to store your variables at locations separated by the optimum number of words apart if you wanted maximum speed. We always wanted maximum speed, of course, so a lot of thought was put into optimizing the storage of our data. Now all of this is useless information. I just give it here to give a flavor of where many hours of my life went. You may think wasted, but I'd argue that it was fun, it made my reputation, and it put shoes on the baby, as one of my mother's aphorisms would put it. The next step up was to the IBM 709, the first really big machine the university got in. It was put up in the electrical engineering building. This was the machine on which the XRAY system was developed. There are many more details later in this document.

Here is a summary of what happened in the academic years at University of Washington. You will see that I didn't cover myself with glory, but I made it through to the end.

Doctor of Philosophy (Chemistry) 12-19-58 Sigma Xi Member Full Transcript requests: Nat'l Research Council 1-10-55, Off. Nat. Rees Council 12-2-55, Fellow Off Nat. Res Counc. 12-2-57, Dept. Chem Self 1-13-60; U. Brit Col. 1-28-60; WSU Dept CHEM 2-19­

Actions: 2-16-53 Full graduate status, 7-30-53 passed read. knowl. In German for adv. degree, 1­18-57 Passed read. Knowl. Exam in Russian for adv degree. 3-28-57 Passed Gen'l Exam PhD.; 12­15-58 Thesis for PhD Degree: "The Structure of Some Coordination Compounds of Nickel and Palladium" **Repeated course max 2.0 per cr. GPA on course work 3.64; including thesis grades

Specific Training in Crystallography at the University of Washington (UW)

At UW at that time there was only one course in Crystallography in the chemistry department. Ed Lingafelter gave the course. But the main and most useful training came to me from the apprenticeship nature of graduate school where you can participate in an active group working in the discipline. This gives one association with knowledgeable members of the group: the professors, the post-doctoral students and your peers. At that time at UW there was in addition to Lingafelter's group two others that we interacted with sharing equipment, seminars, and knowledge.  Lyle Jensen in the Department of Anatomy in the medical school and Professor Joe Kraut in Biochemistry in the medical school and their students shared our interests and objectives and interacted with gusto in giving one-on-one training and guidance when approached. We in the chemistry group in turn offered our help in the promotion of crystallography.  Lingafelter was an outstanding mentor and a teacher with great knowledge and talent. I hadn't been in the group long before I realized how being led by Professor Cross, head of chemistry at that time, was an outstanding life event. More about Lingafelter's life and work can be seen at: This site is an obituary notice from the International Union of Crystallography that Lyle Jensen, Ron Stenkamp, and I contributed to. In that obituary I allude to Lingafelter's soft touch.

 Edward C. Lingafelter and Verner Schomaker

Edward C. Lingafelter (1914-2003) and Verner Schomaker (1914-1997) at an ACA meeting.

The training in chemistry and crystallography that we got from Lingafelter was amazing, but there were also great moments in the ethics of science. At the time I was in the process of checking out a bond lengths and angles program for the IBM-650. There appeared in J.Chem. Soc. (1960) p. 4996 a paper by Lippert, E. L. & Truter M. R. on The crystal structure of monoaquo-bisacetylacetonatozinc where the authors published their bond lengths and angles. Since Henry Mongomery in our group was scooped by this publication I tried to compare their results against mine. There was something clearly wrong so I consulted Lingafelter. In an instant he saw what I didn't: that the authors had used the monoclinic cell angle ß* for ß. Setting that right made the two results agree within the precision of the two data sets. At that point Lingafelter wrote to the authors and pointed out what he had discovered and suggested that they might cooperate in posting a correction in mutual interest. That resulted in the paper by H. Montgomery and E. C. Lingafelter "The crystal structure of monoaquobisacetylacetonatozinc"Acta Crystallographica (1963), 16, pp. 748-752, where the following summary was published:


The main features of the structure are as described by Lippert & Truter (1960). Differences in detail are primarily due to errors in their determination*. To facilitate comparison we have adopted their notation for the several atoms (Fig. 1). The bond lengths and angles, with their estimated standard deviations (Jeffrey & Cruickshank, 1953) are given in Table 4.

The five oxygen atoms coordinated to the zinc ion appear to be all at the same distance, 2.02±0.02 Å. The arrangement of the oxygen atoms is intermediate between tetragonal pyramidal and trigonal bipyramidal, although somewhat nearer to the former. A comparison of the two models is shown by the bond angles in Table 5. The angles for the tetragonal pyramidal model were calculated with Zn-O distances of 2.02 Å and with the Zn atom 0.41 Å above the base plane.

The mean deviation of the bond angles is 2.9° from the tetragonal pyramid and 10.5° from the trigonal bipyramid. If a bipyramidal model is used in which the trigonal symmetry is not required symmetry (Crather than C3h) the mean deviation of the 7 symmetry-fixed angles is 6.4°, while the mean deviation of all angles (taking the deviations in the equatorial plane to be zero) is 4.5°. The most obvious and important deviation of the molecule from the tetragonal pyramidal model is the deviation of the basal set of four O atoms from planarity, atoms O(3) and O(4) lying 0.1 A above and O(2) and O(5) lying 0.1 Å below their mean plane. The two acetylacetone groups are nearly planar, but not coplanar, each group being tilted about 12° from normality to the Zn— H2O bond.

* Note by Mary R. Truter and E. L. Lippert: We are grateful to the authors of this paper for pointing out that in Lippert & Truter (1960), the ß angle is quoted as 93.6° whereas the structure factors quoted correspond to ß = 86.4°. The refinement has been repeated with this error corrected and an empirical extinction correction has also been applied; the fractional coordinates do not differ significantly from those published and only for two values of y (for C(3) and C(44)) is the difference between our corrected results and those in this paper greater than twice the standard deviation. The effect of the correction of ß (and a change in b to 5.376 Å by a new Straumanis determination) is to alter the bond lengths round the zinc atom significantly but neither the general stereochemistry of the molecule nor the dimensions within the ß-diketone have been changed significantly. Revised values of the Zn-O bond lengths are 2.00-2.02 Å for all bonds including that to the water molecule. The arrangement of the five ligand atoms about the zinc is essentially unchanged, that is it can be regarded as a distorted trigonal bipyramid or as a distorted tetragonal pyramid.

Working with and for Ed Lingafelter was very interesting. He was so perceptive. To illustrate I'm going to remind you of his contribution to the structure of ferroelectric crystals, a chance interaction not related to his direct pursuits. Ferroelectricity is a spontaneous electric polarization of a material that can be reversed by the application of an external electric field. The term is used in analogy to ferromagnetism, in which a material exhibits a permanent magnetic moment. Ferromagnetism was already known when ferroelectricity was discovered in 1920 in Rochelle salt by Valasek. Thus, the prefix ferro, meaning iron, was used to describe the property despite the fact that most ferroelectric materials do not have iron in their lattice.

Before I give the background for this work let me explain how I became involved in it. Because in the early days at Maryland there was no computer in the school year I made contacts with several crystallographic groups such as those at The National Bureau of Standards and The Naval Ordnance Laboratory in the Washington, DC area. In addition because of my nine-month appointment I sought work elsewhere in summers.

The elsewhere that I was fortunate to have in those early days was back in Seattle with the crystallography group there. It must have been in the summer of 1962 judging by the publication dates of the paper that resulted that the adventure began. At that time Ed Lingafelter had an exchange faculty member from the University in Florence, Italy who was working with him. Pier Luigi Orioli was using the X-Ray system to investigate the refinement of guanadinium aluminum sulfate hexahydrate, GASH. The structure is in space group P31m, a hexagonal group. As an additional comment I wish to remind you of Professor A. (Sandy) McL. Mathieson, BSc (Aber), PhD (Glas). DSc (Melb), FRACI, FAA, a Scot who emigrated to New Zealand and was a noted crystallographer who had a way with words. From him came Mathieson's dictum concerning crystal structure determination. He said something like: "If the crystal is monoclinic we begin analysis at once, if it is triclinic we set it aside and contemplate it, if it is hexagonal we drop it on the floor and tread on it." GASH fits the bill and sent me scrambling to find why X-Ray did not give the proper results. In due course I got the hexagonal difficulty sorted out and then helped Bonnie Schein and Dr. Orioli get out the calculations required. Fortunately I was able to track down Dr. Schein in March 2010 and ask her for her recollection of how the GASH project came to our attention. We agree that it had to do with Dr. Seymour Geller's papers on high correlations in full matrix least squares refinements of crystal structures, GASH in particular. S. Geller published a paper in Acta Cryst. (1961) 14, 1026, Parameter Interactions in Least Squares Structure Refinement.

I think we took his original GASH data and tried the refinement for ourselves. Indeed the correlation coefficients were very large and the refinement unsuccessful.  Lingafelter asked that we produce a Fourier map from the data, which we did. He then sat down and went through the maps very carefully and decided the correlation coefficients were in fact due to disorder in the structure. A short note was submitted to that effect. In the refereeing process it was blocked as erroneous and in a very hostile tone by Dr. Geller. In this case unlike the * for one cited earlier, Lingafelter chose another path. It was determined that the chromium aluminum sulfate ferroelectric crystals were more suitable than the aluminum compound. Dr. Schein was tasked with gathering the diffraction data for the chromium compound in an electric field. She was aided by a student in mechanical engineering who attached electrodes to the crystal so the data could be gathered with the crystal in an electric field. Under these conditions the whole structure was regularized, the disorder done away with and thus refined. She gathered new data on GASH and data on GCrSH, the chromium derivative, which refined to R 0.035 and 0.036. The paper that resulted, C. Lingafelter, P. L. Orioli, B. J. B. Schein, and J. M. Stewart Acta Cryst. (1966) 20, 451 shows the refinement without any high correlations in the least squares refinement. Dr. Geller was not able to block this paper, but protested in a response on the following pages: Geller Acta Cryst. (1966) 20, 456.

Lyle Jensen was an enthusiastic crystallographer, one of Lingafelter's first students and very meticulous about data collection and structure refinement. He was another important mentor for me. This was posted on the University of Washington website:

"The pioneering work of UW chemist Lyle Jensen in x-ray crystallography, begun in the 1940s, helped to provide the scientific community with a powerful tool for picturing the complex, 3-D structure of these ubiquitous biomolecules. Jensen pioneered computational techniques in crystallography, not only to determine the positions of hydrogen atoms in small molecules, but also to determine the atomic positions in proteins with higher accuracy than previously thought possible."

So you can see just what a boon it was to have his guidance. This extended to his book written in collaboration with George Stout, X-ray Structure Determination by George Stout and Lyle Jensen (April 24, 1989) ISBN-10: 0471607118. Professor Stout's research interests were in the structure and synthesis of alkaloids and natural coloring materials. By 1969 he had determined the structures of three natural products by X-ray diffraction through collaboration with the diffraction groups. The result of his collaboration with Jensen led to their much-praised and much-used book.

Joe Kraut, though less involved on a day-to-day basis, was nevertheless a contributor to our enlightenment, a protein crystallographer with wide ranging interests such as the application of artificial intelligence to the protein phase problem. He spent a year in Cambridge England as a postdoctoral student of Kendrew and Perutz. For example, along with work on the determination of chymotrypsinogen, he had interests in computing applied to Protein Crystallography. Later, after he moved to San Diego he collaborated along with a graduate student Steve Freer in using the SUMEX-AIM facility as the central repository for programs, data and other information of common interest.

The general objective of the project was to apply problem-solving techniques, which have emerged from artificial intelligence research, to the well-known "phase problem" of x-ray crystallography in order to determine the three-dimensional structures of proteins. The work was intended to be of both practical and theoretical value to computer science (particularly artificial intelligence research) and Protein Crystallography.

It was through Kraut's explanation about the generation of symmetry from the rotation matrices and translation vectors described in the International Tables for Crystallography, Volume A: Space-group Symmetry that his graduate student Darrell High tutored me and we were set off on a course to develop crystal structure programs to handle any space group without the necessity for space group specific "patches" to computer codes.

Of course the training didn't end at UW, it continued on at The Ohio State University of Agriculture and The Mechanical Arts (OSU), at ACA meetings, from texts and papers, from errors made, and far beyond. A mentor I met much later was Professor Durward Cruickshank, an amazing crystallographer and person. We met through ACA meetings where there were sub-sessions called Schools on Crystallographic Computing. During a time when I was in Scotland I got to visit him at Glasgow University at the time he was professor there. Later he stopped by Maryland as our guest in University Park. An amazing intellect and really likeable man.

Post-Doctoral Training

The next stage of life began by accepting a two-year appointment with Professor P. M. Harris at OSU in Columbus, Ohio. The Harrises were wonderful people and PM, as he was called, a great man to work for and with. He was up in years, but still very perceptive. The Harrises welcomed us and helped us find an apartment to rent and also lent us some furniture to use.

The work at the university was great. I was put to the task of getting the IBM 650 programs up and running that I had brought from UW. Their availability would allow the graduate students to pursue their structure solutions. I also got to work on refining the structure of RDX, formal chemical name (IUPAC) 1,3,5-trinitroperhydro-1,3,5-triazine. RDX is obtained by reacting concentrated nitric acid with hexamine. The structure had been solved by the group at OSU direct methods, but not yet refined. It is hard to believe in this 21st century day and time, when small molecule structures can be turned out overnight,* that doing crystal structures in 1958 was a several-year and sometimes several-student process. The first publication on the structure done at OSU was a technical report by P. M. Harris and C. P Reed: AFSOR. TR59-165-Ohio State University, 1959. Harris had specialized in the structures of explosives for the military. The work in Ohio presaged what would follow in the years at University of Maryland and NIST. At UMD the Acta Cryst. (1971) B27, 786-793 report on The Crystal Structure of Picryl Chloride by J. S. Willis, J. M. Stewart, H. L. Ammon, H. S. Preston, R. E. Gluyas and P. M. Harris. From NIST came Acta Cryst. (1972) B28, 2857 The Crystal Structure of Cyclotrimethyl-thrnitramine using neutron diffraction to locate the hydrogens by C. S. Choi and E. Prince. That work completed the details of the structure.

*This statement clearly reveals my being On Beyond Zebra. Ron Stekamp was kind enough to comment on it by pointing out the 2010 situation. "Point in question: 'turned out over night'. We might be showing our maturity in thinking it takes over-night to do structures now. I've seen some data collections/solution/refinement episodes that have taken a couple hours.  It's a little disgusting! There's not even enough time to get a snack or coffee before the next crystal goes on the diffractometer! (Let alone, take a nap!) And proteins are almost as fast. Start up a 30-minute data collection on a synchrotron (remote access from your office), process the data set in minutes, run a structure solution script making use of molecular replacement, run a couple model-building programs to fix up some places, and refine the structure to R=0.250.  Time from start of data collection to a solved and nearly refined structure - about two hours! Where's the fun?'

The Ohio State University of Agriculture and The Mechanical Arts was and is a fascinating example of the great land grant universities. The land grant act was a great achievement of the 19th  century. It can be described as "AN ACT Donating Public Lands to the several States and Territories which may provide Colleges for the Benefit of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts." In summary: Morrill Act of 1862 established the Land Grant university system.

One very important help that I got while at OSU was the opportunity to take a course in college teaching. It was given by a philosophy professor and sponsored by a division of the administration, which was not authorized to give courses. It turned out to be most valuable to me. First we read a book that described the politics of getting promotions and tenure. Following that the professor arranged each week for a visiting lecturer. These folks were from all sorts of positions in the higher education hierarchy from beginning assistant professors through deans. They came from small colleges, there are many in Ohio, as well as people within the university itself. It was very enlightening and often amusing. One incident I treasure is the visit of an OSU dean of engineering. He was a big, portly, alpha male and very outspoken. One of our class members on the other hand was a slight, outspoken, English major. Whenever one of the guest speakers would come from engineering, agriculture, or the sciences the English major would always challenge them as to whether their specialties were relevant in the college setting. The fun came the day he posed his question to this dean of engineering. It was a scene to remember. The dean hiked up his trousers and leaning out over the front row using his big thumb pointing down toward this kid's face boomed out what I remember as: "This is the Ohio State University of Agriculture and The Mechanical Arts! You are here as an honored guest in order to attempt to give our producers and innovators that drive society forward a smattering of acculturation. You, and your speciality are of less use to them than they are to you." Now I'm sure that after 58 years I don't have that exactly right, but you get his drift. The thing is that the English major came across to me as being like the character Bunthorn in Gilbert & Sullivan's opera Patience, whose song I give you on the following page for your acculturation.

The end of the tour in Ohio came in 1960 and I didn't have any job possibilities. However, I was offered a one-year appointment back in Seattle at UW. This gave me the opportunity to get back with the group I had left and to continue to search for a job in academia.


(Up-stage, he looks off L. and R.)
Am I alone,
And unobserved? I am!
(comes down)
Then let me own
I'm an aesthetic sham!
(and walks tragically to down-stage, C.)
This air severe
Is but a mere
This cynic smile
Is but a wile
Of guile!
This costume chaste
Is but good taste
Let me confess!
A languid love for Lilies does not blight me!
Lank limbs and haggard cheeks do not delight me!
I do not care for dirty greens
By any means.
I do not long for all one sees
That's Japanese.
I am not fond of uttering platitudes
In stained-glass attitudes.
In short, my mediaevalism's affectation,
Born of a morbid love of admiration!
(Tiptoes up-stage, looking L. and R., and comes back down, C.)
If you're anxious for to shine in the high aesthetic line
as a man of culture rare,
You must get up all the germs
of the transcendental terms,
and plant them ev'rywhere.
You must lie upon the daisies
and discourse in novel phrases
of your complicated state of mind,
The meaning doesn't matter if it's only idle chatter
of a transcendental kind.
And ev'ry one will say,
As you walk your mystic way,
"If this young man expresses himself
in terms too deep for me,
Why, what a very singularly deep young man
this deep young man must be!"
Be eloquent in praise of the very dull old days
which have long since passed away,
And convince 'em, if you can, that the reign
of good Queen Anne was Culture's palmiest day.
Of course you will pooh-pooh whatever's fresh and new,
and declare it's crude and mean,
For Art stopped short in the cultivated court
of the Empress Josephine.
And ev'ryone will say,
As you walk your mystic way,
"If that's not good enough for him
which is good enough for me,
Why, what a very cultivated kind
of youth this kind of youth must be!"
Then a sentimental passion of a vegetable fashion
must excite your languid spleen,
An attachment a la Plato for a bashful young potato,
or a not- too-French French bean!
Though the Philistines may jostle, you will rank
as an apostle in the high aesthetic band,
If you walk down Piccadilly with a poppy
or a lily in your medieval hand.
And ev'ryone will say,
As you walk your flow'ry way,
"If he's content with a vegetable love
which would certainly not suit me,
Why, what a most particularly pure young man
this pure young man must be!"

The Transition To A Career

Back in Seattle I was given teaching duties because of an illness that kept Ed Lingafelter out of school for a year. That was good experience. The only course I remember doing during that time was an elementary one in physical chemistry for medical technicians.


 James MacDonald Stewart & Mrs_Roberta_Lingafelter

James M. Stewart and Mrs. Roberta Lingafelter at an ACA meeting in the 1980s.

But the best part was getting back into the very active cooperative programming scene. A graduate student from the Protein Crystallography group, Darrell High, and I hit it off very well and continued generating a "system" of programs for the solution, refinement, and reporting of crystal structures. It was an idea we had before I went to Ohio. Darrell and I called the system XRAY63. It was not till years later at UMD that Syd Hall and I decided to create the XTAL version to enhance transportability among computers. I had generated code while at OSU, too, but now we made a plan that would turn into my major contribution in the field and began to systematically build a suite of programs to that end. Darrel was a very talented programmer so a lot of detailed programming progress was made that fun year. The worry was that he might get diverted from his thesis problem. He did finish all right, but then went away from Biochemistry to work for various computer companies such as Burroughs.


James MacDonald Stewart  

James Stewart at his computer in 2004.  
He liked to stand while he worked.


Then, out of the blue came an advertisement that the University of Maryland in College Park was looking to hire a crystallographer. I flew to Washington, DC, did the interview in Maryland, and got hired. That appointment lasted 32 years.

James MacDonald Stewart  

James Stewart in front of his "memorabilia wall" at his home in Pennsylvania (2010).


End of The Influences Narrative 

At this point I terminate the "influences narrative" and offer my curriculum vitae and my response to the Fankuchen Award as the summary of the 32 years which followed. I owe thanks to Doctors Virginia Pett, Ron Stenkamp, and Bernice Stewart for careful editing help on this project.

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