South Carolina Section

J.W. "Bill" Ledbetter

Dr. J.W. Ledbetter, South Carolina Section Chair 1976-77, Chair-elect 1965-76, and and Secretary-Treasurer 1973-75, scientist and outdoorsman, age 76, died Thursday, July 24, 2014 in Summerville, SC. Bill was born in Aiken, SC and grew up in Greenwood, SC where he earned his Eagle Scout. He graduated from The Citadel Class of 1959 and went on to earn his PhD in Physical Chemistry from Duke University in 1962. While at The Citadel, Bill was the Regimental Commander in Band Company and was a member of the Summerall Guard. He served in the Army as First Lieutenant from 1962-1965. During his time in the Army, Bill met the love of his life, Patricia Schofield. They were married in Statesville, NC. After a brief time in industry, Bill began his career in academia as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky. In 1966, he accepted a tenure-track position in the Department of Biochemistry at the Medical University of South Carolina where he remained for over 35 years. During these years he taught biochemistry to medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy, and graduate students. In 1970, Bill was awarded a prestigious NIH Fellowship to study under the renowned Professor Gerhard Herzberg who in the following year won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. During his tenure with Dr. Herzberg, Bill conducted fundamental research that contributed to the knowledge of the electronic structure and geometry of nitrogen. Specifically, Bill was the first to spectroscopically identify a new Rydberg state of the nitrogen molecule, which bears his name, the Ledbetter Band.

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