Remembering alumnus Robert “Bob” Carter (1918 – 2019)

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Carter Robert

We are sad to report that long-time supporter and alumnus Robert “Bob” Carter ’42 passed away at the age of 100 on October 7, 2019.

“Bob Carter was a tremendous advocate for women in Chemistry,” said Professor Catherine Clarke, the first female chair of the department from July 2016 to June 2019. “Through our letters and phone calls, I appreciated him as a warm and wonderful person. His legacy will live on through the Robert and Mae Carter Chemistry Endowment which Bob and his wife of 75 years, Mae Carter, established in 2017”.    

Carter received a B.S. in chemistry from UCLA in 1942 and was a member of the Alpha Chi Sigma chemical sciences professional fraternity. After graduation, he worked at the Tidewater Associated Oil Company’s Avon Refinery and in 1956 he transferred to the company’s new Delaware City Refinery. He retired in 1977. In 1997, Carter met with Professor Emil Reisler, who was at that time the Chair of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, to discuss what he could do to support women chemists at UCLA. Since that time, the Carters have made an annual donation for this purpose. In 2017, the Carters proposed an endowment dedicated to the support of women in chemistry which led to the establishment of the Robert and Mae Carter Chemistry Endowment.

Carter is survived by his wife Mae Carter who, before her retirement, was the Assistant Provost of Women’s Affairs and Director of the Commission on the Status of Women at the University of Delaware, where she had worked since 1969. Through the years, the Carters have supported many women’s initiatives at the University of Delaware.

From the Ann Arbor News – October 27, 2019:

Robert Coolidge Carter – 1918 – 2019

Robert Coolidge Carter, age 100, of Ann Arbor, MI, formerly of Newark, DE, died Oct 7, 2019. He was born in Boston, MA on Nov 2, 1918, the only child of Fred L. Carter Jr. and Marion McLoon, both from old New England families. In 1925, his family moved to Los Angeles, CA. He graduated as a chemist from UCLA and was a member of Alpha Chi Sigma, the chemical sciences professional fraternity. He moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1942 to start work at the Avon Refinery of Tidewater Associated Oil Co. He progressed through several positions, ending as Technical Foreman of the Catalytic Cracking Unit. During this period, he met Mae Louise Riedy, who, in 1944, became not only his beloved wife, but also his cherished and indispensable mate. In 1956, he was transferred to a refinery being constructed in Delaware City, DE as Supervisor of the 102,000 barrel-per-day Catalytic Cracking Unit. Before retiring in 1977, he advanced to several other positions, had many special assignments, and retired as the Refinery’s Coordinator of Contracts and Licenses. He was active in the American Petroleum Institute, Kiwanis, Industrial Management Club (YMCA), Newark Friends of the Library and the University of Delaware (UD) Academy of Lifelong Learning. 

He loved traveling, a love that started with a cross country train trip at age two and subsequent cross-country car trips starting in 1929. Mae and Bob started their overseas traveling on their 25th wedding anniversary. Their travels took them to over 135 countries and all seven continents. A few of the most interesting included early trips to Bhutan, collecting New Guinea tribal art, experiencing Ituri Forest pygmies, stark Antarctica landscape, lemurs in Madagascar, tiles in Iran, temples in Burma, tribal law in Yemen, Timbuktu and many safaris in Africa, including a walking safari in Kenya. These travels meshed with his lifelong interest in photography. Many hundreds saw his illustrated travel shows, many held at the Academy of Lifelong Learning for over 30 years. Bob was an avid gardener, designing enviable gardens and patios at both their hillside home in CA and Newark, DE home as well as both daughters’ homes. Bob and Mae worked together to support the UD Women’s Studies Program, which Mae helped establish and is now a designated department. In CA, they established their 60th Anniversary Grove of old growth redwood trees as well as a second Carter Family Grove. More recently, Bob really enjoyed his 3-day 100th birthday celebration and 75th wedding anniversary in good health and mental sharpness and helping design and bring to fruition a roof-top Zen Garden at Glacier Hills Retirement Community to enable residents to enjoy the outdoors. Bob is survived by his wife, best friend and fellow travel adventurer, Mae R Carter, two daughters, Catherine Carter and Christin Carter-Su (Eugene Su) and two granddaughters, Elizabeth Su (Andrew Lee) and Alison Su. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. Remembrances may be made to the Mae and Robert Carter Endowment Fund, Office of Development, University of Delaware DE 19716 or the Robert and Mae Carter Chemistry Endowment Fund, UCLA, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, 405 Hilgard Ave, Los Angeles, 90095.


Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,