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LEE IRVIN SMITH
July 22, 1891–March 29, 1973
BY VIRGIL BOEKELHEIDE
LEE IRVIN SMITH played an important role in the development of organic chemistry in the United States following World War I. During this period he was a leader in the development of the Chemistry Department of the University of Minnesota, especially its Organic Chemistry Division, to a position of prominence. In the course of training sixty-nine graduate students (thirteen M.S. and fifty-six Ph.D. degree recipients) and thirteen postdoctoral fellows, he pioneered research in many areas, including studies of the Jacobsen rearrangement; polyalkylated benzenes; reactions of quinones with metal enolates; the chemistry and synthesis of vitamin E; and the synthesis, structure, and properties of cyclopropanes. Smith was concerned for the success of not only his own students but for all of the students in the Organic Chemistry Division at Minnesota. Although small in stature, Smith was a born leader, had great energy, a large capacity for work, and the outstanding characteristic of insisting on excellence in every enterprise with which he was associated.
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Lee Irvin Smith was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the