University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Go to chemistry home page.


In memoriam: Professor Emeritus Raymond Dodson, 1920-2015

Department of Chemistry Professor Emeritus Raymond M. Dodson died in Minneapolis on Sunday, July 12, four days after his 95th birthday. A memorial is planned for 3-7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, Riverview Tower, 1920 1st St., Minneapolis.

Dodson was born on July 8, 1920, in the coal mining town of West Hazelton, PA. Through scholarships, he attended Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA., earning his bachelor’s degree in 1942. He earned his doctorate from Northwestern University in 1947. He first came to the University of Minnesota as an assistant professor in 1947, and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1951. He left the university to work as senior chemist and assistant director for chemical research at Chicago-based G.D. Searle and Company from 1951-1960. Dodson returned to the university in 1960, serving as a professor of organic chemistry until his retirement in 1983.

Dodson was an outstanding scientist, studying heterocycles, steroids, and sulfur compounds. While working with G.D. Searle, he invented some of the first oral contraceptives, and he supervised the program that led to the first antiadosterene. He also worked on penicillin manufacturing and artificial sweeteners. His research work in industry and academia resulted in the publication of more than 90 papers, and more than 70 patents.

He was also an outstanding mentor and teacher, training more than 31 doctorate students, more than 15 students seeking their master’s degrees, and numerous post-doctoral researchers. At the time of his retirement, one of his graduate students Ed Larka reflected: “He was on top of what you were doing and wouldn’t allow you to flounder, but he would force you to think for yourself. Through his penetrating questions, he would draw out of you a solution to your problem.”

After leaving the university, he then taught at the Fort Hare University in the Ciskei, South Africa for two years.

Dodson was an active faculty member while at the University of Minnesota, serving on many department- and college-level committees such as the Dean’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Reorganization of Chemistry, multiple search committees, University Patent Committee, Advisory Committee on Promotion and Tenure, and Consultative and Appeals Committee.

He was a family man, enjoying 33 years of marriage with his second wife Liz and her four children, and proud of his four children. He was preceded in death by his oldest daughter, Karen Bloom. He is survived by his wife Liz Brenner Dodson; children Steven Dodson MD, Debra Garley, MD, Becky Johnson, RHIT, CDIP; stepchildren Robert Brenner, Scott Brenner, Mark Brenner, James Brenner; 12 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.

Donations in his honor may be made to Como Park Zoo and Conservatory and to the Minneapolis Public Library.

His obituary can be found at Information for this article was gleaned from a 1983 tribute to Professor Dodson written by his colleague Professor George Barany.