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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 65
LOUIS FREDERICK FIESER
April 7, 1899-July 25, 1977
BY MARSHALL GATES
LOUIS FREDERICK FIESER, one of the major figures in organic chemistry of this century, was born on April 7, 1899, in Columbus, Ohio, the son of Louis Frederick and Martha Victoria Kershaw Fieser. His father was an engineer, and his grandfather an educator and editor who published the first German language newspaper in Ohio and was at one time head of the Columbus School System. Fieser attended Douglas School and East High in Columbus and then Williams College, graduating in 1920. Although his major interest was chemistry, he was also strongly attracted to english and philosophy. He was a scholar and an athlete, a member of Phi Beta Kappa who lettered in football, basketball, and track, and was a member of the undefeated football team of 1919. He retained a robust athletic ability well into middle age; many of his graduate students will recall his feat of swimming the entire length of the Harvard pool under water, a feat none of them could duplicate.
Graduate study at Harvard under James Bryant Conant followed his years at Williams, leading to the Ph.D. in 1924. His thesis research on the oxidation-reduction potential of quinones, at the time an area with a distinct theoretical character, was the beginning of a life-long interest in these fascinating substances. Already he began to exhibit the prac-