University of Florida, Gainesville
Center for Macromolecular Science and Engineering - University of Florida Polymer Science Program

In Memory of Dr. George Butler

George B. Butler, 91, the polymer chemist who introduced macromolecules to the University of Florida, died June 7th, 2007, in Gainesville, Florida. Born and raised in Liberty, Mississippi, educated at Southwest Mississippi Junior College, Mississippi College, and the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill, Professor Butler was known as a kind and considerate gentleman who offered quiet advice and genuine friendship every day of his life. Professor Butler's introduction to polymer chemistry came as a researcher at the Rohm & Haas Company in Philadelphia in the early 1940s, where he pioneered the synthesis of polymeric binders for propellants. In 1946 he and his wife Josephine moved to Gainesville, where he began teaching as an instructor at the University of Florida. Today, 61 years later, more than 18 faculty and 120 students study macromolecular science and engineering on campus, a tribute to his remarkable academic career.

The Butler research program is perhaps best known for its discovery of cyclopolymerization, chemistry that has proven to be of enormous academic interest and practical importance. The $10,000 research grant he received from the Navy to pursue this chemistry was one of the first external grants to be awarded on campus. Well over 4,000 publications have dealt with various aspects derived from the original discovery. His and Professor Paul Tarrant's entrepreneurial spirit led to the establishment of Peninsular Chem Research Corporation in Gainesville, thereby spawning commercial development worldwide in the water treatment, textiles, cosmetics, paper, coal, and glass industries. These and other contributions led to his receiving the 1980 ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry, along with numerous other awards during his distinguished academic career.

Dr. George Butler

More than 180 graduate students and postdoctoral associates recall Professor Butler as an outstanding mentor. These people and his other friends around the world remember him for his hard work, unwavering integrity, generous spirit, friendly nature, chemical insight, and fierce loyalty to those who depended on him.

A memorial service arranged by Williams Thomas Funeral Home was held in Gainesville at the First Presbyterian Church, 300 SW 2nd Avenue, at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 13th. The Butler family suggests that in lieu of flowers, contributions can be made via the Internet to the Center for Macromolecular Science & Engineering fund in the University of Florida Foundation. For further information, see here. Memorial donations also may be made by postal mail, payable to the University of Florida Foundation, P.O. Box 14425, Gainesville, FL 32604 (please reference the Center for Macromolecular Science and Engineering, Fund #577, on the memo line).

Center for Macromolecular Science and Engineering - University of Florida Polymer Science Program
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