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In memoriam: Professor Emeritus Doyle Britton, 1930-2015

Department of Chemistry Professor Emeritus John Doyle Britton “Doyle” died in Minneapolis on Tuesday, July 7, at the age of 85. He was born on March 6, 1930 in Los Angeles, CA.

Britton earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1951, and his doctorate from the California Institute of Technology in 1955. He joined the University of Minnesota Department of Chemistry in 1955 and retired 44 years later in 1999. He focused on inorganic chemistry and specialized in crystallography.

One of Britton's long-time colleagues and collaborators was Professor Wayland Noland. "Doyle and I co-authored his first publication involving x-ray crystallography in 1962*," said Noland. "That initial collaboration continued and intensified in the past 25 years, producing about a dozen papers with undergraduate researchers from my group. He identified the compounds of interest and we synthesized them—many of them new compounds."

Noland added that there likely will be more than five published papers from his group with Britton posthumously listed as co-author.

Britton had a reputation as being a kind, gentle and caring man, and was a treasured professor in the department. He was also somewhat of a Renaissance man—an athlete (lettering in water polo as an undergraduate), scientist, lover of poetry and literature, mountain climber, and traveler.

He is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Judy G.; children, Jenny, David (Amy) and Mary Katherine; grandchildren, Seth, Joe and Eli; nephews, Don (Jennifer) Hirsh, Tom (Deb) Hirsh; nieces, Paula (Dave) Koeller, Bonnie Reibman; relatives, co-workers and friends.

Memorials are preferred to the Nature Conservancy. His obituary was published in the Star Tribune.

*D. Britton and W.E. Noland, Chem. Ind. (London), 563-564; D. Britton and W.E. Noland, Benefuroxans. The Crystal and Molecular Structure of 5-Chlorobenzfuranzan 1-Oxide and 5-Bromobenzfurazan 1-Oxide, J. Org. Chem., 27, 3218-3223 (1962).