Robert M. Joyce

1916 – 2002


Robert M. Joyce, the Editorial Coordinator of Organic Reactions, and a former Director of Organic Reactions Inc., died in Sun City Center FL on January 19, 2002 at the age of 86.

Bob was born in Lincoln NE and received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemistry at the University of Nebraska under the mentorship of Professor Cliff Hamilton. He entered the University of Illinois to study under the legendary Roger Adams, obtaining his Ph.D. in 1938. Following the path of numerous Adams students, he took a position as a research chemist at the DuPont Experimental Station in Wilmington DE. At DuPont he discovered how to manufacture a new polymer now known as Teflon, which had been found accidentally by another DuPont chemist, and pioneered the early development of this new product. He became Director of DuPont Central Research in 1963, of the DuPont Film Department, and finally of the Biochemicals Division of the DuPont Agricultural Chemicals Department before retiring in 1978.

Bob’s direct involvement with Organic Reactions resulted from his serendipitous encounter with then Editor-in-Chief William G. Dauben on a Tucson, AZ, golf course in 1978. During the golf game, Bob advised Dauben that he would like to exercise his chemical knowledge by providing editorial assistance to Organic Reactions, a series founded by his Illinois mentor, Roger Adams. Shortly thereafter, Bob agreed to help complete a chapter on the Friedlander Synthesis of Quinolines, which the authors could not complete. This task was carried out with Bob’s characteristic energy and precision, and appeared soon afterward in Volume 28. When Professor Harold Blatt retired as secretary in 1980, Bob was invited to serve as secretary to the Editorial Board. In 1982, Bob became Secretary-Treasurer and in 1983 he was elected a Director of Organic Reactions Inc.

Over the past two decades, Bob Joyce’s editorial talents, scientific acumen and ebullient energy have profoundly shaped the course and style of Organic Reactions – not to mention the lives of its editors and authors. Bob was an exquisite and articulate writer. His vigor and high standards insured that all manuscripts headed for publication were clear, accurate, complete and in conformance with the demanding style and format of Organic Reactions. Bob was indefatigable; if a chapter was carelessly written, or the tabulation of reactions imprecise, he would often jump in and fix it himself. All of us, authors and editors alike, learned from Bob how to produce a series with the content, consistency, and character of which Roger Adams would be proud.

As a shrewd and plain-speaking Nebraskan, Bob entered the lives of all of us in the Organic Reactions family. He was a delightful and irrepressible force who loved chemistry, loved the work he did for Organic Reactions, and left a legacy that is to be found on all the bookshelves of the organic chemical community. All of us treasure our personal friendship with him and his late wife, Nedra. His spirit will live on in our ongoing efforts to create books that fully meet his standards.

Besides devoting his energy and intellect to Organic Reactions, Bob and Nedra were active in their church and supported the training of Seeing Eye dogs for the blind. In his usual inimitable style, Bob, who had become a Macintosh computer devotee because of his desire to bring Organic Reactions into the “computer age”, worked at computerizing his church attendance records and then its collection records. He grudgingly worked with the church as it migrated to the Windows OS, a fact that he never failed to grumble about in conversation. We are certain that these other organizations will also miss Bob’s spirit.

Bob is survived by his son, Dr. Richard R. Joyce of Tucson, AZ, a daughter, Kathleen V. Lofstedt of Bremerton, WA, and his grandchildren Susan Loftstedt and Andrew Loftstedt.