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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 60
ARTHUR CLAY COPE
June 27, 1909-June 4, 1966
BY JOHN D. ROBERTS AND JOHN C. SHEEHAN
ARTHUR CLAY COPE, an extraordinarily influential and imaginative organic chemist, was born on June 27, 1909, and died on June 4, 1966. He was the son of Everett Claire Cope and Jennie (Compton) Cope, who lived in Dunreith, Indiana, but later moved to Indianapolis to enhance their son's educational possibilities. Everett Cope was in the grain storage business and his wife worked for some time at the local YWCA office.
In 1929 Arthur received the bachelor's degree in chemistry from Butler University in Indianapolis, then, with the support of a teaching assistantship, moved to the University of Wisconsin for graduate work.
His thesis advisor at Wisconsin was S. M. McElvain, whose research program included the synthesis of organic compounds with possible pharmaceutical uses—especially local anesthetics and barbiturates. Cope's thesis work, completed in 1932, was along these lines. It led to the discovery of a useful local anesthetic and provided the major theme of his research for many years.
Cope clearly made a strong impression at Wisconsin during his graduate career. He completed his thesis work and three independent publications in three years and was recommended by the Wisconsin organic chemistry faculty (then