Donald F. Othmer; Chemical Engineer, Inventor
Donald F. Othmer, 91, chemical engineer who wrote the reference book on his profession and held about 150 patents for his inventions. Othmer, a native of Omaha, earned his chemistry degrees at Nebraska and Michigan universities and began his wide-ranging career working for Eastman Kodak. He found a way to distill acetic acid for use in safety film--by inventing his own Othmer still. After obtaining about 40 patents for Kodak, he became an independent consultant. During the Depression, Othmer joined Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, where he taught and invented for more than 60 years. Among his significant inventions were the explosive RDX used in World War II and methods for producing myriad resins, plastics, textile fibers, foods and pharmaceuticals. He was a founding editor of the Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, a multivolume reference work that made his name a familiar one to generations of chemical engineers. On Wednesday in Brooklyn, N.Y.