Gifted scientist lauded the liberal arts

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In the early years of the Cold War, Dr. Herschel Grose, who was still relatively new to Marietta College’s Chemistry Department, expressed the need for the government to incorporate the scientific community in government operations.

“Certainly the first step along this line would be the creation of a cabinet post of science,” he said during a 1957 interview with The Times Signal. “Suddenly the people of the United States have awakened to the grim realization that another nation is fully capable of matching the scientific and technological standards of this country. In fact, in certain fields Russia has gone ahead of us by an uncomfortable margin.”

Born Feb. 1, 1921 in Scircleville, Ind., to parents Herschel K. and Anna M. (Heaton) Grose, Herschel Gene Grose graduated cum laude from Indiana Central College in 1942 with a degree in Chemistry. During World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and received training at Princeton University and at MIT.

“A specialized radar training program, part of a broader Engineering Defense Training (EDT) program sponsored by the U.S. government, established at MIT in June 1941,” according to the Guide to the MIT Radar School Collection, 1941-45, 1993. “The focus was to educate a core group of Army and Navy personnel about the theory and operation of microwave radar so that they could be ready to use nascent radar technology that was expected to be essential to forthcoming military efforts.”

While at MIT, Grose met his future wife, Charlotte Wilson, who was serving in the U.S. Marine Corps at the time. The couple married on April 14, 1944. The couple had six children: Suzanne, Steven, David, Sandra, Gregory and Bonnie.

After his training, Lt. Grose served in the Pacific Theater as a radar officer aboard the U.S.S. Tinosa, a Gato-class submarine. After his 18-month service, he entered Indiana University, where he earned a doctorate in chemistry. He was working as a research chemist when he was hired at Marietta.

“Herschel G. Grose came in 1953 with the daunting assignment as the eventual successor to the storied E.L. Krause, who in his working lifetime had built the chemistry department into a tower of strength and prestige,” wrote Vernon “Dan” McGrew, in the College’s second history book, In the Various Branches of Useful Knowledge. “Grose modernized and extended the high level of the department, making good use of the new Selby Chemistry Building. He blended expertise with an especially pleasant, upbeat personality and lively lectures. Students in and out of chemistry found his enthusiasms refreshing.”

Dr. Rich Givens ’62 was one of his students who helped establish the Dr. Herschel G. Grose Memorial Scholarship this year.

“My memories of Dr. Grose are centered mostly on his teaching of Organic Chemistry. To be honest, I really was not too interested in organic chemistry as it was presented in the textbooks in 1960. They were chapter after chapter of industrial processes and pretty boring to read,” Givens said. “Dr. Grose — or Herschel as we disrespectfully called him — made the subject more tolerable because he could give a personal story about his experience in industry or he could relate a chemical reaction to something he did as a submariner in the U.S. Navy. His humor and clear explanations made it easy to absorb the material and do well on his exams.”

This sentiment was shared by many of Grose’s former students, even those who did not major in chemistry.

“He talked to you and he did not talk down to you; half of it was his knowledge and the other half was his personality,” said Dr. Bob Monter ’62, also a supporter of the Grose Scholarship. “I’m sitting there in his class thinking he’s making this subject very understandable and quite easy. He was never grumping, smiling all of the time, and he looks at you with those blue eyes and you know you are coming back again.”

In the early 1960s, Grose began to push for the College to be recognized once again by the American Chemical Society through gaining accreditation, particularly due to the success of the graduates from the program and the fact that all of the faculty in the department had or would soon have doctorates.

“That will make us 100 percent,” Grose wrote to the accreditation review board. “No one can say that this is not enough. I might add that at no time have we found it a disadvantage to be among those not included on the list. We have not had a single graduate school or prospective employer to inform us that he did not want our product because of the fact that we are not an approved school. Many schools prefer to remain outside the sphere of the American Chemical Society.”

Grose taught and led the chemistry faculty until 1985, when he retired and moved to North Canton, Ohio. Charlotte, his wife of 46 years, died on Sept. 15, 1990.

After nearly two decades of retirement, he decided to drop back into the classroom. He began sitting in on chemistry courses in late 2004. By 2006, the 85-year-old Emeritus Professor of Chemistry was teaching a general chemistry lab every Tuesday at Walsh University in addition to sitting in on a biochemistry course.

Though he pushed for an increase in the fields of science education, Grose still held the liberal arts education in high regard.

“In return to scholarship (in colleges, high schools and grade schools) it is important, however, to recognize the extreme importance of humanities along with the sciences,” Grose said during his 1957 interview. “To put all emphasis on sciences, mathematics and engineering could, in the long run, be just as disastrous, in a different way, to our way of life.”

On Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, Grose died at Aultman Hospital in Canton. He received a military committal service the following spring and is buried at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, Ohio. He was 91.