Obituary - Raymond E. Davis (1938-2013)

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Professor Raymond Edward Davis was born November 7, 1938 in Hobbs, New Mexico, to proud parents, Edward and Louise Davis. When he was 2 years old, the family moved to Neodesha, Kansas, where Ray spent his childhood and school years, and where he also met his high school sweetheart and the love of his life, Sharon Klingenberg. 

Ray attended the University of Kansas at Lawrence, was honored with a membership in Phi Beta Kappa and, in 1960, received a Bachelor of Science Degree with Honors in Chemistry. Ray and Sharon were married that summer in the First United Methodist Church in Neodesha. Ray studied at Yale University under the direction of Al Tulinsky and received his PhD in 1964. He then spent two years working as a post-doc with David Harker at the Roswell Park Memorial Institute in Buffalo, New York. The train trip to Buffalo was a memorable one for Ray and Sharon because Sharon was pregnant with Laura at the time and Ray had just had an appendectomy. Their youngest daughter, Angela, was excited about the train ride and wanted to sit on daddy's lap and look out the window for most of the trip. Ray said he could remember each and every bump in the tracks. 

Ray accepted a position as an assistant professor in the Chemistry Department of The University of Texas at Austin in the fall of 1966. Ray had ordered the equipment he needed for his research before he arrived on campus. He walked into his lab to a big pile of boxes. Shortly after, in walked Stan Simonsen with his overalls and a tool box ready to help Ray put his lab in order. Ray was surprised that a full professor would take all that time out of his busy week to help a junior faculty member. It was the start of a lifelong friendship between the two and a lesson that throughout his tenure Ray would apply to other faculty in the department. 

There are no words to express Ray's love of teaching and learning; teaching was a passion for him and was a gift to be shared with every student he came in contact with. Ray received numerous teaching awards including the Minnie Stevens Piper Professorship in 1992, the Jean Holloway Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1996, and (five times) the Outstanding Teacher Award given by campus freshman honor societies. In 1995, Ray was named an inaugural member of the University of Texas's Academy of Distinguished Teachers. When he retired in 2006, the university made him a University Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus. Around this time, Ray began collaborating with Ken Gailey from the University of Georgia to update editions of The Principles of General Chemistry which he had coauthored in 1983 with Ken Whitten. Later, Larry Peck, of Texas A&M, worked with him on several additional editions, and this past year Ray completed the 10th edition of this textbook with George Stanley, of LSU. Several editions have been translated to other languages - many of the younger ACA members probably used Ray's textbook in their general chemistry classes. Ray also wrote several high school chemistry texts.  

Ray was an early proponent of hands-on undergraduate research projects. Throughout his career Ray's lab always had a small group of undergraduates working on different projects. These very talented students were recruited out of Ray's freshman chemistry classes, where he had the pick of the top students in the college. Ray had them writing programs for particular projects he was interested in, growing crystals and collecting data sets on these same crystals. With some guidance, Ray expected the students to solve and refine their own structures. A structure wasn't considered complete until the student had built a model of the structure using Charles Supper's model building device. The first thing you noticed when entering Ray's lab and office was all of these elaborate crystal structure models hanging from the ceiling. 

When Ray went to Madison in the mid 80's looking to buy a new diffractometer, Chuck Campana described some of the software that was available with the equipment. Chuck had been to Ray's lab and had seen the models. Chuck pointed out to Ray a program not written in Madison which had been added to the package because it was so useful for those wanting to build their own structural models. Ray took one look and said, "That's my program." Ray had written it, along with many others, years earlier. When they left, anyone who had worked in Ray's lab was welcome to take any of the programs Ray had written or helped write. 

Ray had a very playful side. Early in his career, he used a Syntex P21 diffractometer. Data taken on this instrument was written to a 7-track magnetic tape, and when a data set was complete, Ray would walk the tape to the campus mainframe computer office, where the tape got in line with other jobs to be read sometime during the night. On one occasion, Ray asked Dick Harlow, then a post-doc, to take the tape to the computer center. While waiting in line to turn in the tape, a big tape that was being rewound suddenly broke spewing several hundred feet of tape all over the room. Dick got this useless mess and stuffed it into a box. He placed the box on Ray's desk, with a note saying that there was an accident at the comp center with his dataset. The next morning Dick expected Ray to say something to him about the 'accident'. When Ray didn't say anything, Dick figured that a janitor cleaned up the mess before Ray had a chance to see it. Dick figured it was a good joke gone to waste as he set down at his desk. When he opened his desk drawer, a landslide of magnetic tape boiled out onto his lap. 

2003 ACA Council


Ray, a long time member of the ACA, was Local Chair for the San Antonio meeting in 2002. He was elected to the Council and served as President in 2003. He has a world-wide reputation as an expert in x-ray crystallography. A paper on hydrogen bonding analysis using graph sets by Ray and Joel Bernstein that was published in Angewandte Chemie has had more than 5500 citations since its publication in 1995. Their ideas about using graph sets to describe H-bonding have been incorporated into the program Mercury by the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Center. 

Ray spent every day loving life, family, music, history, photography and simply learning something new. After moving to the country near Salado Village, Texas, Ray discovered a new love - watching and identifying hundreds of birds. 

Both Ray and Sharon were extremely proud of their children and grandchildren, and attended many events to support each one of them; often they attended several games or events on the same day, in different towns. Ray was the rock of the family, and every family member enjoyed making him proud. 

Ray is survived by his wife, Sharon; daughter and son-in-law Angela and Rick Wampler; daughter and son-in-law, Laura and Mikel Kane; and son Brian Edward Davis. His grandchildren are Ryan, Kendall, Gracelyn, William, Olivia, Hannah, Kevin and Stuart; KeMiaya and TyKyra are guardian grandchildren, and Tasha and Richard are step grandchildren. Additionally, Ray is survived by his brother Ken and Ken's wife, Candace; his sister Barbara; three brothers-in-law, Richard, Jon and Gary Klingenberg and their wives; numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews. Uncle Ray was a favorite. 

Ray's friends and former students created the Raymond E. Davis Endowment Scholarship in Chemistry and Biochemistry in his honor. Ray's passing on May 29, 2013 has left a big empty hole in the lives and hearts of all who were privileged to love and know him. 

The Davis Family and Vincent Lynch