October 20 1936 May 2 2020
Obituary Daniel S. Kemp Scientist, Teacher, and Mensch Daniel Schaeffer Kemp was born in Portland, Oregon, as the only child to the late Paul D. Kemp and Ellen L. “Lovie” Kemp, née Schaeffer, of Pennsylvania. Dan grew up in Missoula, Montana, where he graduated from Missoula County High School in 1954 with highest honors. Having discovered his love for chemistry and the performing arts during his formative teenage years, Dan enrolled as an undergraduate at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and graduated in 1958 with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. Dan enrolled for his Doctoral studies with the late great Chemistry Nobelist R.B. Woodward at Harvard University, having been awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship. He pursued his love for the art of organic chemistry, and graduated with his PhD degree in 1964 having been elected to the Harvard Society of Fellows. Dan subsequently started his professorial research and teaching career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he became Professor Emeritus in 2009. During his accomplished career spanning nearly five decades, Dan made several seminal contributions to basic science, organic chemistry and protein biochemistry. In his early years, the eponymous Kemp’s triacid, the Kemp elimination and decarboxylation reactions were among his developments in organic chemistry. Having switched his interests to protein biochemistry in the second half of his career, Dan contributed significantly to the basic understanding of the intrinsic rules governing protein folding and stability, publishing his last seminal original paper in 2009. A committed and passionate teacher and mentor, Dan influenced the lives of thousands of students and associates, always considering to be working with them, rather than them working for him. He was the leading author of a successful Organic Chemistry textbook initially published in 1980. His work was widely awarded, including having received the Everett Moore Baker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (MIT, 1993), the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (ACS, 1997), and the Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry (ACS, 2000), among many others. An avid reader and student of human nature, philosophy and culture, Dan traveled the world extensively. He spent sabbaticals at the University of Oxford, UK and the Technical University of Munich, Germany, as an awardee of the prestigious Humboldt Research Fellowship. A contemporary of the late Julia Child, Dan also had a passion for cooking and food, in particular French cuisine and baking. He also loved gemology, a hobby that allowed him to combine his passion for science, art and design, and over the years he built an impressive collection of self-cut gemstones. Dan lived a unique and fulfilled life, driven by his intellectual brilliance, love for research, teaching, mentorship in science and the performing arts, but also fulfilled by his deep emotional intelligence and altruism. The latter is reflected in his numerous contributions to causes he cared about deeply, from the abolishment of capital punishment, ensuring continued access to biomedical research funding for exceptional scientists (he was a Prostate cancer survivor), and sharing his love for and learning from his decades of teaching. In 2014, Dan made a generous donation to his alma mater to help establish the Center for Teaching and Learning at Reed College, a resource to support faculty and staff in strengthening teaching at Reed. After battling dementia in his final years, Dan passed away peacefully and comfortably from respiratory complications due to COVID-19 near Concord, Massachusetts. Most importantly he was not alone. He is survived by his legacy as a giant of chemistry and teaching, revered by the countless students and a close group of associates he trained, mentored and inspired during his unique and celebrated life. His close companion over the last 35+ years, cockatoo Octavian (“Tavvy”), has been placed in loving care. Requiescant in pace, Dan. In lieu of flowers, donations in Daniel S. Kemp’s name may be made to Foster Parrots ; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center ; or The Center for Teaching and Learning at Reed College. Arrangements are under the care of Dee Funeral Home & Cremation Service of Concord. Events There are no events scheduled.
Our most sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Daniel Schaeffer Kemp October 20 1936 May 2 2020.
Death notice for the town of: Concord, state: Massachusetts