In Memoriam: Theodore A. Koch (1925-2014)

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Dr. Theodore A. Koch, 88, a retired DuPont research sci­en­tist passed away peace­fully at his home in Wilm­ing­ton, Delaware on Sep­tem­ber 13, 2014.

A native of upstate New York, Koch stud­ied chem­istry at St. Michael’s Col­lege in Burling­ton, VT and the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia in Philadel­phia, PA, earn­ing his Ph.D. in chem­istry in 1952. He joined the DuPont Co. ulti­mately retir­ing from its Nylon busi­ness unit as a DuPont Fel­low after 48 years of ser­vice. An author­ity on het­ero­ge­neous cat­a­lysts, Koch spent his entire career devel­op­ing chem­i­cal processes and bring­ing them from the bench­top to com­mer­cial­iza­tion with marked cre­ativ­ity and tenacity.

Notable tech­ni­cal accom­plish­ments in Koch’s career included devel­op­ing a new cat­a­lyst for nitrous oxide destruc­tion (an ozone-depletion byprod­uct from Nylon man­u­fac­ture), devel­op­ment of a new process for hydro­gen cyanide man­u­fac­ture and improve­ments to many poly­mer inter­me­di­ates processes. Koch received the award for Excel­lence in Cat­alytic Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy from the Catal­y­sis Club of Philadel­phia in 1994 and the Lavoisier Medal for Tech­ni­cal Excel­lence from the DuPont Co. in 1998. His exter­nal roles included adjunct Pro­fes­sor of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing at the Uni­ver­sity of Delaware; pres­i­dent of the Catal­y­sis Club of Philadel­phia; and mem­ber­ship in the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety, the Amer­i­can Insti­tute of Chem­i­cal Engi­neers, the Organic Reac­tions Catal­y­sis Soci­ety, and the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Soci­ety. He held 29 patents and co-authored 18 jour­nal arti­cles and one text­book on catal­y­sis enti­tled, “Cat­a­lyst Manufacture.”

Koch is sur­vived by his wife of 62 years, Anne, his five chil­dren, five grand­chil­dren and extended fam­ily. His mem­ory lives on through the Theodore A. Koch Fund that will rec­og­nize and reward Delaware Val­ley achieve­ments in catal­y­sis research. Char­i­ta­ble dona­tions may be made to the Catal­y­sis Club of Philadel­phia, Ted Koch Fund, c/o Stephen Har­ris, Trea­surer, Ren­matix, 660 Allen­dale Road, King of Prus­sia, PA 19406.