May 4, 1912–October 18, 2002
BY ROBERT F. LANDEL, MICHAEL W. MOSESSON, AND JOHN L. SCHRAG
PROFESSOR JOHN D. FERRY was a towering figure in polymer science—in the development of our understanding of viscoelasticity and its origins in polymer structure and associated local and long-range molecular motions. His enormous contributions to the field were such that his career was both a centerpiece and a mirror of these developments. His work was always marked by a persistent, orderly, and detailed investigation of unsolved areas: actively identifying them, developing experimental tools to investigate them, interpreting the results on phenomenological and molecular scales as appropriate, and, from this, identifying the most important areas to be pursued next.
John left polymer science with an enormous legacy of understanding of both the linear viscoelastic properties of polymeric systems and the origins of these properties in their conformations and motional dynamics. This was not just an experimental legacy developed by him and his colleagues during a nearly 60-year career but, most importantly, a conceptual legacy woven from threads drawn from across the polymer field and elegantly summarized in the three editions of his book Viscoelastic Properties of Polymers.2 Its translation into Japanese, Russian, and Polish is a tribute to its authority.