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Updated 10:00 AM October 13, 2003
 

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Obituary
G. Brymer Williams


G. Brymer Williams, professor emeritus of chemical engineering, died Sept. 19, less than a month short of his 90th birthday. He was associated with the U-M chemical engineering department for 68 years, longer than anybody else.

Brymer was born in Denver, where he started studying chemical engineering, but transferred to U-M in 1935, receiving his B.S. in 1936. His doctoral studies were interrupted during World War II by employment in New York City with the M.W. Kellogg Co. There, Brymer undertook various war-effort projects and also taught at New York University. He returned to Ann Arbor in 1947, receiving his doctorate in 1949. He was appointed as an instructor at U-M in 1947, rising to professor in 1956 and acting chairman of his department 1956-57.

(Photo courtesy James Wilkes)

Countless alumni remember Brymer's devoted friendship to students. He was unfailingly cheerful and helpful.

Upon his retirement in 1984, a substantial scholarship fund was established in his name—the first in the history of his department to be named after a living faculty member.

In the classroom, he was an early proponent of open-ended problems—particularly suited to his teaching of chemical engineering plant design. Brymer was a coauthor of "Unit Operations" (Wiley, 1950), one of the most significant books ever written in the field.

His research activities were centered in petroleum engineering, in which field he was a consultant to industry. He was a registered professional engineer and a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He received the highest award of the College of Engineering—the Stephen S. Attwood Award—in 1974.

Although Brymer shunned the limelight, he had numerous friends and was effective in helping students and in guiding the University. He played countless major roles in the U-M community, including chairmanship of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs and service on the Hospital's Public Advisory Committee, the University Development Council, President Shapiro's Inaugural Committee, the Engineering College Centennial Committee, and the Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics. Brymer was a past president of the Ann Arbor Rotary Club.

He and his wife, Ruth, were ardent supporters of U-M functions, and they endowed a School of Music scholarship fund in memory of his uncle, David McK. Williams.

Brymer had a phenomenal memory for people and events, and his taped memoirs are an historical gem and represent a major contribution to his department's history book, "A Century of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan," published earlier this year.

Brymer was preceded in death by wife Ruth Barrett Williams and sister Eleanor Waski. He is survived by his children: Nancy Mimno, David and Donald and their spouses, as well as seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

A 90th birthday luncheon had been planned for Brymer on Homecoming Friday, Oct. 17, but this now becomes a celebration of his life—11:45 a.m. in the Johnson Rooms on the third floor of the North Campus Lurie Engineering Center, with refreshments to follow. Brymer's friends are cordially invited. For additional information, visit http://www.engin.umich.edu/dept/cheme/alumni/gbwmemorial.html.

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