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In memoriam: Lester C. Krogh, Ph.D., 1925-2013

Lester Christensen Krogh, Ph.D., a chemical engineer, chemist, and long-time 3M employee who shared his passion for chemistry by endowing two chemistry fellowships, died on Friday, January 25. He was 87.

Krogh earned his doctorate in chemistry at the University of Minnesota in 1952. He earned his engineering degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. For 38 years, he was a leader and senior vice president of of research and development at 3M.  

In 1984, Krogh was honored with an Outstanding Achievement Award by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. This award honors graduates who have attained unusual and noted distinction in their chosen fields, professions, and public service, and who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership. The University also honored him with an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree.

Krogh was active in many science organizations, including being a member of the American Chemical Society for more than 50 years. He served on many advisory boards with the University of Minnesota and University of Nebraska. He was a trustee of Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Technology, Moscow Russia; active in technology transfer, serving on many small company boards; elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and received Earle B. Barnes and Senior Chemists Awards from the American Chemist Society.

Because of his passion for chemistry and his commitment to the University of Minnesota, he and his wife Joan established the Lester C. and Joan M. Krogh Endowed Fellowships—two fellowships that give financial support to chemistry students in the College of Science and Engineering's Department of Chemistry.

The following article about Lester Krogh's legacy, passion for chemistry, and story of giving was published by the College of Science and Engineering in 2010.

Chemistry has always been a passion for Lester Krogh. From his time as a doctorate student to his 40-year career at 3M, Krogh enjoys telling stories of his own life in science, as well as hearing stories about current science and engineering students.

Krogh started the Lester C. and Joan M. Krogh Endowed Fellowships, two fellowships that give financial support to chemistry students in the College of Science and Engineering.

Supporting the college has been a part of Krogh’s life since shortly after graduation. His annual $100 donation gradually increased as his career progressed.

Today, it helps graduate students in chemistry each year. Pointing to the cost of tuition while he was a student, Krogh knows his assistance means more than ever now.

"Tuition was $88 my freshman year," Krogh said. Each year, he attends a dinner where he meets the students he so generously helps. "It is fun to talk with them. They are all very appreciative," Krogh said.

Upon graduation, Krogh joined 3M and began a 40-year career in research and development. His work contributed to the rise of 3M with groundbreaking products like the current office desk fixture, Post-it® notes. Today, the company annually records more than $20 billion in net sales.

Krogh enjoys sharing the stories of his successful career with a future generation of chemists, like the students he generously helps each year.

"I enjoyed earning the money in my career, but I also definitely enjoy giving it away," Krogh said. "It puts some spirit in the old bones."

Krogh was preceded in death by his first wife Rosa C. Krogh and parents Clarence and Clara Krogh. He is survived by wife Joan, daughter Christine L. Brown (Baird), and son Charles J. Krogh (Beth Hudson); four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. 

Photo of Lester and Joan Krogh