August 1, 1921–August 28, 1998
BY GLENN A. BERCHTOLD AND LOUISE H. FOLEY
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY Professor Emeritus George H.Büchi of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Jackson, New Hampshire, one of this century’s foremost organic chemists, died of heart failure while hiking with his wife in his native Switzerland on August 28, 1998, at the age of 77. Throughout his life he was an avid hiker, hunter, skier, and fisherman whose fondness and appreciation of the outdoors rivaled his love of science.
Büchi was born in Baden, Switzerland, on August 1, 1921. He received a diploma in chemical engineering from the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) in Zürich in 1945. He received the D.Sc. in organic chemistry from the ETH in 1947, while working in the laboratory of Professor Leopold Ruzicka. Even in the 1940s the ETH was the center of organic chemistry in Europe, and Büchi’s education and love for the chemistry of natural products was heavily influenced by close association with distinguished faculty, including not only Ruzicka but also V.Prelog, O. Jeger, and P.A.Plattner. Early in his graduate days George Büchi completed a synthesis of 1-methylazulene. The area of research was of active interest to Professor Plattner, and it was agreed that the work would be published with Plattner