Philippe Douglas St. Pierre, aged 94, passed away peacefully on January 1, 2020 at Kemper House Worthington. He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 69 years, Sylvia Hill St. Pierre. Worthington, Ohio, was their home from 1968 to 2014 before moving to Wesley Glen in Columbus. Douglas is survived by a daughter, Adrienne Saint-Pierre (Barry Rosenberg), a son Anthony (Cathy Abel), and a grandson Seth A. Rosenberg (Caroline). Surviving cousins are Barry Elman of Liverpool, England, Elizabeth Allard of Ontario, and Pierrette Bernatchez, Roch Bolduc, Jacques Bolduc, Claire Morrisette, and Denise Labrecque, all of Quebec. His younger brother, Lawrence Clifford, died as an infant in 1932.
Douglas was born in Liverpool in 1925 and at the age of 4 moved with his parents, Capt. Philippe and Doris St. Pierre to the Ilford area of London. Douglas attended Bancroft School from 1936 to 1943 where he met twin brothers who became his lifelong friends, Edward and Ronald Broadway. They both credited Douglas, a dedicated student, with inspiring in them the work ethic that propelled them to become successful in life.
From his youth, Douglas was analytical and studious and showed great promise in science and mathematics. Douglas entered the Royal School of Mines in 1943, graduated with honors in 1946, and was then employed at Murex Ltd. From 1943 to 1945 he also served in the Civil Defense Service, which provided critical assistance protecting the civilian population from German air raids, and spotting fires caused by incendiary bombs dropped on London. Following WWII, in 1947, Douglas was very proud of receiving a Nuffield Traveling Scholarship, a prestigious award that encouraged the pursuit of new knowledge in the sciences. He was thus able to spend a year traveling in Canada and the U.S. where he studied mining and processing of gold, copper, nickel, iron, and other minerals. It was an opportunity that shaped his future.
After he returned to England he married Sylvia, whom he had met in 1944. They immigrated to Ottawa, Canada, in May 1948 where Douglas was employed at the Canadian Bureau of Mines. In 1952 he earned a PhD degree from Imperial College at the University of London. Douglas joined the General Electric Research Lab in Niskayuna, NY, in December 1955, and among many accomplishments there, he was part of a team that developed Lucalox lamps to illuminate large spaces such as highways. He was elected a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society in 1966. The following year he was appointed Manager of Engineering of GE’s industrial diamonds, a new division starting in Detroit, Michigan. He was responsible for the design of new products and processes for manufacturing diamonds. In 1968, the division was relocated to Worthington, Ohio.
Douglas retired in 1988 after 32 years with GE. For ten years, he volunteered as a newspaper reader for Ohio Radio Reading Services for the blind and dyslexic. In 1990, he taught a course at the University of Illinois on synthetic bone, and for several years traveled and gave lectures. The quintessential scientist with a brilliant mind, Douglas often engaged people, whether scientifically inclined or not, in conversations about his complex and innovative ideas. Even in his early 90s, he was developing theories that he hoped to test, applying scientific principles in materials sciences to solving problems in medicine.
Douglas was a kind and loving person, devoted to his wife and family, and he very much enjoyed the gatherings of friends that Sylvia so ably organized, especially their wine-tasting and play-reading groups; he also enjoyed a book club in his retirement. He adored his grandson and was very proud of his accomplishments, and was delighted to attend his wedding in Connecticut, despite his own frailness at that time. While living at Wesley Glen, Douglas appreciated the kindness of the staff and caring friends who helped him in so many ways. He greatly enjoyed his last few weeks of life with the staff at Kemper House Worthington, who truly appreciated his special mind, his humor and good nature, and infused his days with love and laughter. A private memorial will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to the Ohio Historical Society or Ohio Radio Reading Services.
Services are private.
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