Christmas of my senior year, I married my Stanford sweetheart, Susan Buhler. This was also a time for waking up spiritually. I was raised in an academic family and carefully taught that religion was all right for those who needed it, but that there was no eternal truth to it. As I came to know the reality of the teaching that comes by the Spirit and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I began the greatest adventure that there is in this life.
Academic life took us to New York City for four years of graduate school, then Madison, Wisconsin, then Tennessee for seven years (where I taught at Vanderbilt), and finally to our current home in Newark, where I teach organic chemistry at the University of Delaware. I have published nearly 200 papers on natural product total synthesis and the development of new synthetic methods, and I have written several books. For any readers so inclined, my weekly online update of the best of organic synthesis can be found by googling “organic highlights”.
Susan earned a Ph.D. in curriculum development from the University of Delaware, and built an academic career at Rowan University, teaching prospective elementary school teachers to do, enjoy, and teach mathematics.
Along the way we raised six children, which has been the most fun of all. They are married, and we are on to the third generation, with twelve grandchildren so far.
We had a grand time with the next phase of life, enjoying being a honeymoon couple again. For those of you who are not familiar with the East Coast, Delaware is a small state near Philadelphia. We had season tickets to the Philadelphia Orchestra, savoring the music and the dinners before with our friends. We spent weeks together in Nara, in Delhi, in Florence, and also in Guangzhou, China, where we were visiting professors together.
Six years ago, Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer. After surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, she enjoyed several vigorous years, but two years ago it came back, and she passed away on January 20, 2010. Dedicated to her students, she managed to keep teaching through the end of October. We spent more than forty years learning to be one, and that one is not gone. We are just apart for a time.
When I was baptized, I had glimpsed the strength and power of the Gospel and wanted it in my life. With more than forty years of experience living it, including four years as bishop of our ward, I know that strength and power personally. I am looking forward to the years ahead.
Douglass F. Taber (Ph.D., Columbia University) is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Delaware, with specialization in organic chemistry. His home page is at http://valhalla.chem.udel.edu.
Posted June 2010