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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 77
MICHAEL J. S. DEWAR
September 24, 1918–October 10, 1997
BY JOSEF MICHL AND MARYE ANNE FOX
MODERN ORGANIC CHEMISTRY would not have been the same without Michael J. S. Dewar. He was one of the first, if not the first, organic chemist to master molecular orbital theory and to apply it to problems in organic chemistry. His sparkling intellect and theoretical insight introduced many of the fundamental concepts that are now taken for granted, and his ceaseless efforts over four decades produced the semi-empirical methods of computation that are still used the world over. He is remembered as a man of marvelously original and unorthodox ideas, a man of impeccable integrity, and a formidable debater.
Michael James Steuart Dewar was born in Ahmednagar, India, on September 24, 1918, of Scottish parents. His father was a district commissioner in the Indian Civil Service, the British government of India. Michael was sent to a boarding school in England at the age of eight, and as a holder of a prestigious scholarship he then studied at Winchester College. He entered Balliol College at Oxford in 1936 and undertook classical studies before developing his intellectual pursuit of organic chemistry. After earning a first-class honors undergraduate degree and his doctoral degree, he stayed at Oxford as a postdoctoral fellow with Sir Robert