- The Washington Times - Friday, March 11, 2005

Charles R. Naeser, professor emeritus of chemistry at George Washington University, died March 5 of congestive heart failure at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. He was 94.

Born Nov. 13, 1910, in Mineral Point, Wis., Mr. Naeser received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1931 and his doctorate from the University of Illinois in 1935. His research established the atomic weight of gadolinium, a rare earth metal.

In 1935, he joined the faculty at George Washington, where he taught chemistry for 41 years. He was chairman of the Chemistry Department from 1947 to 1950, 1951 to 1953 and 1955 to 1973.

Mr. Naeser was a member of the GWU Faculty Senate for several years before retiring in 1976.

He served as a captain in the Army’s chemical warfare service from 1942 to 1945. In 1940, he developed a technique to enrich uranium for the Naval Research Laboratory. He served as a scientific adviser to the European Command headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany, in 1950 and 1951.

He later was chief of the chemistry group of the Geochemistry and Petrology Branch of the U.S. Geological Survey, and a consultant at the Office of Saline Water Conversion. He served as president of the Retired Chemists Group of the Chemical Society of Washington.

Mr. Naeser was vice president of the Washington Academy of Science from 1957 to 1958, receiving the organization’s teaching award for outstanding service in the area of chemical education.

He also received the Washington Chapter, American Institute of Chemists Award for research in inorganic chemistry and, in 1969, the Alpha Chi Sigma Professional Service Award for service to the chemistry profession.

He wrote a laboratory manual for general chemistry and was published in various chemistry journals. After years of teaching chemistry labs, he penned “Naeser’s Law,” which is seen today on many calendars: “You can make it foolproof, but you can’t make it damned foolproof.”

Other memberships included the Geological Society of Washington, American Chemical Society, Geochemical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of University Professors, Sigma Xi, Phi Lambda Upsilon, Alpha Chi Sigma and Delta Chi.

The Naeser Memorial Lecture Hall in Corcoran Hall at George Washington University was dedicated in 1978 after former students and friends made contributions to renovate the chemistry lecture hall.

Mr. Naeser’s wife of 54 years, Elma, died in 1989.

He is survived by a son, Charles W. Naeser of Herndon; a daughter, Margaret A. Naeser of Boston; two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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