Elected in 1967
“For development of catalytic cracking and petroleum processes.”
ADAPTED FROM AN ARTICLE BY SANDY SMITH, PUBLIC RELATIONS DEPARTMENT, WIDENER UNIVERSITY
SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY
CHALMER GATLIN KIRKBRIDE, engineer, teacher, researcher, author, environmentalist, inventor, and major contributor to our understanding of energy, died on June 16, 1998, at the age of 91. Born on December 27, 1906, near Tyrone, Oklahoma Territory, to pioneer parents, he spent his formative years in the southeast Kansas town of Caney. Kirkbride’s parents were Zachariah Martin Kirkbride, a frontier judge, and Georgia Ann Gatlin, niece of the inventor of the Gatling gun. He went on to attend the University of Michigan, where he received his B.S and M.S. in chemical engineering in 1930.
Most of Kirkbride’s life was devoted to finding efficient ways of extracting and producing fuel to support America’s industrial economy. His first job out of college, in 1930, was as a chemical engineer for Standard Oil Company of Indiana (Amoco), now BP. From 1934 to 1942, as assistant director for research at Amoco’s Texas City refinery, he ran projects to develop a catalytic cracking process and synthetic rubber for the war effort.
While at Texas City, he met Billie Skains, the Galveston woman who became his wife in April of 1939. The couple remained married for 50 years, until Billie’s death, and had one son, Chalmer G. Kirkbride Jr., born in January 1940.