to understanding biochemical issues related to health and disease would come from elucidating the biochemistry of normal cells. Toward this goal he fostered the efforts and collaborations of individual investigators to succeed in their particular areas and contributed to the fundamental understanding of such substances as amino acids, proteins, enzymes, vitamins, and nucleic acids. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1946 and was president of the American Chemical Society in 1957. He died on February 20, 1988, at the age of 94.


Roger John Williams was born on August 14, 1893, in Ootacumund, India, as the youngest of six children of American missionary parents. His parents brought him to the United States at two years of age by ship across the Pacific. After a brief stop in Oakland, California, his father acquired an 800 acre ranch in Greenwood County, Kansas, about 12 miles outside Eureka. At four years of age Roger attended a one-room country school about 2 miles from their home. The family soon moved to California, where his father took a small pastorate at Otay, near the Mexican border. They moved back to their ranch about four years later, and eventually they settled in nearby Ottawa, Kansas.

In school Roger was a good student. It was discovered later that he had severe aniseikonia, an eye condition that caused eyestrain whenever he read for more than a short time. Aniseikonia was unknown until about 1930. His condition was corrected with only moderate success by special glasses in 1941, but by that time he was already nearly 50 years old. Rather than feel sorry about his condition, Roger would state that his affliction gave him more time to think when others might be reading.

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