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In memoriam: Professor Emeritus Maurice Kreevoy, 1928-2016

Professor Emeritus Maurice Kreevoy died, Sunday, March 20, 2016, at the age of 87, from pneumonia and complications from Parkinson's Disease. He was born in Boston in August 28, 1928. A memorial celebration will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at the Campus Club, Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455.

Kreevoy earned his bachelor’s degree in 1950 from the University of California in Los Angeles, and his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1954. He spent his entire career in academia with the Department of Chemistry, joining the faculty in 1956 as an assistant professor, promoted to associate professor in 1959, and to full professor in 1964. He retired in 1994.

He was a distinguished physical organic chemist. Kreevoy’s seminal contributions included fundamental studies on the mechanism of acid-catalyzed acetal hydrolysis, the chemistry of sodium borohydride and sodium cyanoborohydride, the activity of the hydronium ion in organic solvents and in D2O, the use of isotope effects for elucidation of reaction mechanisms, the application of Marcus theory to hydride transfer mechanisms, and the concept of short, strong hydrogen bonds.

His work is featured on the University’s Wall of Discovery, mentioned with collaborator Marvin Bacaner. The inscription reads: “Lab notes from the development of the drug bretylium tosylate in the 1960s, which has been used to save countless heart attack victims. Bretylium, patented in 1978, has become a widely prescribed drug for preventing heart disease and life-threatening arrhythmias. Dr. Bacaner, in collaboration with retired chemistry professor, Dr. Maurice Kreevoy, has developed an oral form of Bretylium, previously only available as an injectible.”

Professor Steven Kass was one of Kreevoy's colleagues and close friends in the Department of Chemistry. Kass said that Maury was his mentor and guide when he first came to the University, taking him under his wings, and this mentorship blossomed into a close friendship.

"He was a terrific scientist and scholar in the best sense of the word," said Kass, "but he was also a real gentleman—a gentle man, very kind. Whenever people asked me about Maury, they would comment about what a kind man he was."


Kreevoy, Maurice M. Chemistry Professor Emeritus, died Sunday, March 20, 2016, at the age of 87 of pneumonia and complications of Parkinson's disease. He was born to Edward and Jennie Kreevoy, in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 28, 1928.

He was educated in the public schools of Boston where he attended the Boston Latin School, and he completed his high school education in Los Angeles. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1950. In exploring his passion for chemistry, he received his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1954. After post-doctoral studies at Penn State University and the University of Utah, he commenced his career at the University of Minnesota, in 1956, continuing until his retirement in 1994. In his career as a scientist and educator, he was the author of more than 130 scientific and peer reviewed publications.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his wife of many years, Raye S. Kreevoy. He is survived by two children, a daughter Edith Pang (Gary) and a son William Kreevoy, both of Minneapolis, as well as his two grandchildren, Raymond and Helen Pang.

During his long career, his house was often filled with students who were always welcome during the holidays. His loves included: good coffee, music, good food and wine, travel and the Yiddish language. For many years, he was an active participant in the Yiddish Vinkl, participating until his health would no longer allow it. He was a loving father and grandfather, whose love for his family was boundless. He was always a supporter of strong public education and Higher education.

Memorials should be directed to the: Yiddish Vinkl, C/O Sabes J.C.C., St. Louis Park, MN or the University of Minnesota, Chemistry Department.

Condolences may be sent to:  
Edith Pang
3505 Zane Avenue N.
Crystal, MN 55422