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Robert K. Boeckman Jr.

08/26/1944 - 09/05/2021

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Robert K. Boeckman Jr.

WATSON - September 5, 2021: Today Robert K. Boeckman Jr. lost his 15-year battle with NASH, the non-alcoholic liver disease, which eventually led to renal failure. Bob is survived by his wife of 45 years, Mary Delton, his father-in-law Philip Delton, brother-in-law James Delton, sister-in-law, June Hanson (Anders), niece Lindsey Delton of Phoenix, Arizona; nephew Andrew Delton (Tess Robertson) of Long Island, NY; brother-in-law, Robert V. Burnikel, nephew Christopher Burnikel of Pittsburgh, PA; nephew David J. Burnikel (Amanda) of San Diego, CA and their son James. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Maribeth Burnikel.

Bob was born on August 26, 1944 in Pasadena, CA while his Dad was stationed there during WWII. He grew up in Dayton, OH and earned his BS degree from Carnegie Institute of Technology. He went on to study chemistry with James Hendrickson and Ernest Grunwald at Brandeis University. After being awarded his PhD in 1970, he completed postdoctoral studies with Gilbert Stork. In 1972 he began his academic career at Wayne State University, and in 1980 was recruited by the University of Rochester as a full professor. Bob coauthored, with his students and postdoctoral associates, about 150 research papers, and book chapters, principally in the area of synthetic organic chemistry. He served as chair of the department from 2003-2013 before retiring from the University in July, 2019 with Emeritus status as the Marshall D. Gates, Jr. Professor of Chemistry. He remained active in his discipline, still working on a medicinal chemistry research project of bisphosphonates and bisphosphonate drug conjugates at the time of his death.

Bob met his wife Mary Delton at a chemistry conference in Kingston, Jamaica in January 1976. They were married the following June. They shared a love of science, horses, cats, and nature. They moved to the Adirondacks upon Bob’s retirement. Bob has bequeathed an endowed Professorship to the Chemistry Department of the University of Rochester in his name.

In addition to Bob’s chemistry endeavors, he was a long-term supporter and the recent President of Pet Pride of New York, Inc., a no-kill, cats only, sanctuary and adoption center. During his tenure, the organization blossomed, adopting over 200 cats and kittens in 2020.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bob’s name to Pet Pride of New York on their website: or mailed to PO Box 338, Mendon, NY 14506.

In 2019 the Department of Chemistry hosted a seminar with invited speakers, his former students, and colleagues to honor Bob’s extraordinary contributions to the University of Rochester. Students and colleagues are asked to remember your time with Bob at this retirement ceremony. A private funeral service will be held at Petries Corners Cemetery in Watson, NY.

Bob was an inaugural Fellow in the American Chemical Society and was also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organic Chemistry from 1997 until 2016. Among Bob’s academic honors are an A.P. Sloan Fellowship, a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health, and an ACS Cope Scholar Award. He was a Fellow of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, and was twice awarded the Alexander Von Humboldt Stiftung Research Prize for Senior Scientists. He was named a Marshall Gates Scholar by the University of Rochester, receiving the William H. Riker University Award for graduate teaching in 2009.

On-line condolences of sympathy may be made to:

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