We both took chemistry in high school in 1955, myself at the old Coyle High School at Clay and Jefferson avenues and my husband, Dick, at Kirkwood High School on Essex Avenue. We had a Wise chemistry teacher, Elmer Headley. We both liked chemistry but we never ever thought that a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry would have lived in dear Kirkwood but here we are!
Because of all the tragic science deniers, it was great that William Standish Knowles, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2001, was recalled and remembered at a recent Kirkwood Historical Society meeting. Gretchen Curry of the Kirkwood Historical Society hosted the meeting. William Standish Knowles lived in Kirkwood with his wife and four children across from the Baptist church (now a parking lot) on Woodlawn. The family also lived on East Monroe.
An excellent talk at a meeting at Mudd’s Grove was given by his daughter Lesley McIntire, who lives in Kirkwood. Lesley described the great ceremony when her father received the Nobel Prize for chemistry in Stockholm. Lesley stated that her father’s great research might well cause young people to emulate her father!
William Standish Knowles research was extremely important in the production (by Monsanto-St. Louis) of L-dopa which is used to treat Parkinson’s disease to stop tremors. Also, William Knowles work at Monsanto had much to do with the production of beta-blockers to reduce blood pressure to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
William Knowles did not keep any of the money from the Nobel Prize (which was over $200,000) but he gave money to two employees at Monsanto who helped him with the L-dopa research and to two universities which he had attended.
William Standish Knowles greatest characteristics were curiosity and perseverance. The research of William Standish Knowles benefited all of humanity! It was stated when he won the Nobel Prize that: “William Standish Knowles changed the face of modern medicine.” Science is indeed Great! William Standish Knowles was 95 when he died in 2012.
Nancy and Dick Reeves