Daryle Busch (1928-2021)

It is with great sadness that the Department of Chemistry reports the passing of Emeritus Distinguished Professor Daryle H. Busch who died May 19th at the age of 93.  Professor Busch has been a prominent leader in the field of transition metal coordination chemistry and one of the founding fathers of synthetic macrocyclic chemistry. Daryle is survived by his wife, Geraldine Barnes (Jeri) of 70 years. Other survivors include his children Michael C. Busch, Steven J. (Becky) Busch, Cheryl A. (John) Rome, Kristina M. (Eric) Rodriguez, plus eleven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by a sister, Robbye Joanna and Derek H., a son.

A native of Carterville, Illinois, he enlisted in the U.S. Army just after high school graduation.  After his honorable discharge in 1948, he attended Southern Illinois University, Carbondale for his bachelor’s degree, then received both his masters’ (1952) and PhD degrees (1954) from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Upon graduation he began his teaching and research career at The Ohio State University (OSU), where he served on the faculty from 1954 to 1988. During that time, he established himself as an international leader in inorganic chemistry. In 1988 the University of Kansas had the good fortune of attracting OSU’s then Presidential Professor Busch to KU as the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor, and he continued to make significant scientific impact up to his retirement in 2013.

Daryle was the first to devise an intentional strategy that resulted in the synthesis of molecules that were initially known as synthetic macrocycles, first published in the early 1960s. The term “synthetic” was coined to set them apart from biological macrocycles such as porphyrins (hemoglobin), corrins (vitamin B12), and chlorins (chlorophyll).  His strategy consisted of using metal ions as templates for holding precursor fragments in proximity for the condensation(s) that would result in the preplanned cyclic molecules. A significant feat was his synthesis of the first synthetic (non-porphyrin) iron-dioxygen carrier using a synthetic macrocycle known as a cyclidene. Over the next several decades macrocyclic chemistry exploded into many areas of chemistry including applications in biomedicine, catalysis and materials science. 

While at KU he proactively encouraged collaborative research.  He worked with Professor Bala Subramanian (Chemical and Petroleum Engineering) to establish Bala’s new concept that supercritical fluids provided a significant “green” pathway to certain catalytic reactions.  This collaboration led to the establishment of KU’s Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis (CEBC), which was an NSF Engineering Research Center, with Daryle in the role of Deputy Director.  The CEBC continues to be a thriving research center. A key element of the CEBC has been attracting industrial chemists to work in the CEBC laboratories.

Daryle has also made significant contributions outside of the university, including scientific organizations and industries.  In 2000, he was elected President of the American Chemical Society (ACS), one of the world’s largest scientific organizations with over 155,000 members. He has also been active in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the International Union of Pure and applied Chemistry (IUPAC). He has also forged collaborations with a number of industries, including E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, 3M, and Proctor and Gamble. 

Professor Busch has received many awards and accolades, including the ACS Awards in Inorganic Chemistry and for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry; the Dwyer Medal in Coordination Chemistry from the Chemical Society of New South Wales,  and the Izatt-Christensen Award in Macrocyclic Chemistry.  He has over 400 publications, including five books and 14 patents.              

Professor Busch was a highly creative scholar, with incredible instinct and understanding of chemistry at the molecular level.  He was also a dedicated teacher and mentor to many students both in the classroom and in his research enterprise.  Most of all he was known for his kindness and compassion.  Daryle H. Busch was a true gentleman in every sense of the word and he will be greatly missed.