Chemist Eric Hutchinson, who designed school shields, dies

Chuck Painter hutch

J.E. Wallace Sterling, left, and Eric Hutchinson display the flag Hutchinson designed for the School of Earth Sciences. Hutchinson finished designing the shields and flags for all seven schools at the university in 1967.

Eric Hutchinson

Eric Hutchinson

Eric Hutchinson, a professor emeritus of chemistry at Stanford University, died on Nov. 14 at an assisted living facility in Sandy, Utah. He was 84.

A member of the Stanford chemistry faculty for 34 years and a skilled calligrapher, Hutchinson designed the official shields and flags that represent the university, the Office of the President, the graduate division and the seven schools (medicine, engineering, Earth sciences, education, law, business, and humanities and sciences).

The coats of arms and banners created by Hutchinson have been prominently displayed at major university events since 1967, the year he completed their design at the request of then- President J.E. Wallace Sterling, who wanted to add pageantry and color to Commencement day at Stanford. Sterling described Hutchinson as "a wonderful university man," according to a 1996 article published by the Stanford Historical Society.

Born on Dec. 25, 1920, in Morton, England, Hutchinson attended the University of Cambridge from 1938 to 1945, earning a bachelor's degree, master's degree and doctorate, all in chemistry. After working as an instructor at Sheffield University from 1945-46, he obtained a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford. He joined the Fordham University faculty from 1948-49 and then returned to Stanford as an assistant professor of chemistry, earning a full professorship in 1959.

In 1942, he married Lilian Tribe, an accountant at the London School of Economics who had transferred to Cambridge along with the rest of the school when war broke out in 1939. She worked as an accountant in Stanford's payroll office from 1947 to 1960, and in later years helped paint and silk-screen the heraldry shields designed by her husband. The Hutchinsons became U.S. citizens in 1958. Lilian died of cancer on Nov. 25, 1993, at age 74.

A highly regarded teacher, Eric Hutchinson held a number of academic positions at Stanford before his retirement in 1983, including associate executive head of the Chemistry Department and academic secretary to the university. He was editor of the Journal of Colloid Science from 1950-56 and chaired the Santa Clara Valley Section of the American Chemical Society in 1963. He authored or co-authored dozens of scientific papers, as well as several chemistry textbooks and a history of Stanford's Chemistry Department from its founding in 1891 through 1976.

Hutchinson is survived by two foster children, Doreen Joul Oliver of Walnut Creek, Calif., and Kevin Cornwell of Sandy, Utah. A memorial service will be held for him at 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6, 2006, at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 330 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park, Calif. 94025.

Donations in his memory can be made to Holy Trinity Episcopal Church or to the Stanford Historical Society, P.O. Box 20028, Stanford, CA 94309.