In Memoriam: Prof. Raymond E. Dessy (1931–2020)
(April 9, 2020) It is with heavy hearts that the department announces that Professor Emeritus Raymond Dessy has passed away. Ray was a beloved fixture in the department and could often be found working in his lab up until his passing.
Dr. Dessy earned a bachelor of public health in pharmacology in 1953 and a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1956, both from the University of Pittsburgh. He was a faculty member at the University of Cincinnati before joining the Department of Chemistry at Virginia Tech in 1966.
His early research focused on organometallic chemistry and in 1963, he served as the first chairman and organizer of the International Conference on Organometallic Chemistry (ICOMC). The conference brought 119 participants from nine countries and has since been held on a regular basis with the 29th conference originally scheduled to occur in July.
Later in his career, his focus pivoted and he published many papers on the integration and implementation of the then-emerging technology of computers in research labs. In 1986, he won the first ACS Award for Computers in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, then sponsored by Digital Equipment Corporation, for his outstanding individual achievement for the use of computers in education, product development, or research in the chemical and biological sciences. After retiring and receiving emeritus status, Dr. Dessy pursued other research interests in various fields outside chemistry such as music (Blues history and Renaissance wind instruments) and sociology (graduate student networking).
In recent years, he received research awards from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, most recently the Senior Scientist Mentor Award in 2015, which allowed him to continue to perform research with and mentor undergraduate students. His research during this 3-year program focused on naturally derived plasmonic nanoparticle research in plants.
He was beloved by the department, with faculty and staff fondly remembering him as a constant source of conversation, encouragement, and curiosity about all aspects of the human endeavor.
Per his wishes, there will not be a service. If you have thoughts or memories to share, email Corrin Lundquist at email@example.com and we will be happy to include them in the spring 2020 edition of Elements.