Elected in 1974
“For contributions to mass transfer technology and
computer simulation of chemical processes.”
BY DONALD R. PAUL
JAMES R. FAIR, a giant in chemical engineering who straddled the industrial-academic interface with great ease, died on October 11, 2010, just three days short of age 90.
Jim was born on October 14, 1920, in Charleston, Missouri, south of St. Louis and near where the Ohio River intersects the Mississippi River. He spent his early years in Tonganoxie, Kansas, and Little Rock, Arkansas. As a young boy Jim was very fond of watching baseball games and was fascinated by all aspects of trains and railroads; these were pastimes that stayed with him throughout his life. He was very active in scouting and became an Eagle Scout before his 16th birthday.
At age 18, Jim entered the Citadel, in South Carolina, in the tradition of his father. In 1940 he transferred to the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he received a B.S. in chemical engineering in 1942. After graduation he joined the Monsanto Chemical Company as a junior engineer in St. Louis. Later he had assignments in Karnack and Texas City, Texas. During World War II he was vitally involved with the government’s high-explosives and synthetic rubber programs.
As it turned out, Jim was transferred to Texas City just prior to what has been called the worst industrial accident in U.S.