COVID-19 Information

Retired and Renowned Chemist Shares Wisdom

05/10/2018

May 10, 2018

Academic research can sometimes lead to interesting and unexpected connections. In one such instance, Dr. Elyse D’nn Lovell, a Highlands College faculty member conducting sociological research, met Jack Frazer, a retired member of The Springs Retirement community. A common interest in academic life led to his life story as a renowned chemist and pilot in the Army Air Corp during WWII with a fascinating almost 70-year career and who lives right here in Butte. Shortly after meeting him, Dr. Lovell put her research on hold and focused on Mr. Frazer.

Now in his 90s, Mr. Frazer was raised on a ranch in Oregon. During World War II, he served as a pilot in the Air Force. After the war, Mr. Frazer earned a degree in chemistry and in 1949 he began working at the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico, in 1953 he moved to the Lawrence Livermore National Lab and rose to Director of Chemistry and Materials working in analytical procedures, synthesis of explosives and mono-propellants, and the automation of chemical laboratories. Soon after retiring from Lawrence Livermore, Mr. Frazer became the President of Keithlley Instruments in Solon, Ohio with distribution in North America and Europe.  Next, he became a research consultant for Merck and later Eastman Kodak. He received the 1973 American Chemical Society’s Award in Chemical Instrumentation. In Montana Tech’s Library, a search of academic journals reveals 67 article publications.

At 80, he created a notable Maple tree arboretum cultivating Japanese Maples and he opened a nursery called “Maples by Design.” Today, he maintains a personal reference library in his Springs Retirement Community apartment. Frazer said, “my library continues to be important to me - encyclopedias for reference.  I want my family to have these references to share with others.”  Notwithstanding his fascinating career, he is proudest to describe his life with his late wife, who was his avid companion. He is the proud father of two daughters and one son and actively involved in sharing his life today along with grandchildren and great grandchildren. 

Mr. Frazer and Dr. Lovell met by chance as Lovell’s gerontology students from Highlands College were conducting a research study at The Springs.  The students were interviewing residents interested to share their preferences in entertainment over the years.  Frazer was not interested in discussing entertainment or participating in this study.  So it was by chance that the two informally struck up a conversation. 

Their conversation covered a mixture of topics including discussions about life working in higher education including collaborating with colleagues, understanding politics within higher education, the joy of research and publications, coveted awards, balancing the needs of one’s family with career and retirement and how the balance continues in one’s interests with an importance to continue learning with each day. 
 
Lovell was appreciative to listen and hear, “Jack Frazer has maintained a graceful balance of continuing to learn as he resides at The Springs appreciating the joy of maintaining conversations with his family and continuing to pursue his interest on numerous topics – learning something new with each day.” Dr. Gurchiek, Dean of Highlands College shared, “ Dr. Gurchiek, Dean of Highlands College shared, “ We are supportive of the intergenerational conversations The Springs residents have with our students, which provides a better understanding of community.”