Madison - Edwin Niblock Lightfoot, Jr., passed away peacefully in his home at the age of 92 on October 2. Ed was born to Edwin N. and Harriet Grimm Lightfoot in Wauwatosa in 1925.
The most important event of his life was his marriage to Lila Smith of Newburgh, NY in 1949, which began a partnership of 67 years. Ed counted in his family five children, Dory (Enrique Rueda), Edwin J. (Sue Dempsey), Nancy (Nicholas McGill), Robert (Karin Hunsicker), and David (Barry Burciul); his granddaughter Katherine; his "academic family" of 49 doctoral students; and many spoiled, well-loved dogs.
Ed received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University. He worked for Pfizer & Co in Brooklyn where he received a patent for manufacturing vitamin B12. He began his teaching career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was a distinguished member of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering for over 50 years. His research interests were in separation processes and controlling the dynamics of biological systems. He was the author or co-author of several influential books in transport phenomena and rheology, including the classic textbook Transport Phenomena. He was a seminal thinker in applying chemical engineering to biological and biochemical systems. He was awarded the AIChE's William Walker and Warren K. Lewis awards for contributions to literature and for teaching. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received honorary doctorates from the University of Trondheim, now NTNU, and the Danish Technical University. He was a 2004 recipient of the National Medal of Science in from President George W. Bush for his innovative research and leadership in transport phenomena, with important medical applications in blood oxygenation, bio-separation techniques, and diabetic responses. In later life Ed turned his attention to ways of developing scientifically informed intuition in in bioengineers (in particular quantum biology).
Ed was always a teacher, whether it was in the halls of academe, enjoying the outdoors with his students, seated around the dinner table, or walking at his dog park. He was proudly independent and thrived on debate. He enjoyed reading, his dogs, the woods of Wisconsin and especially his Sauk county farm, counting cranes, travel, cross-country skiing, sailing, canoeing, and bicycling. He travelled the world or lived in places as far as Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, and Taiwan, but his heart was always in southern Wisconsin. He had a deep concern for those in need, and was at heart a cheerful, warm and generous man.
He is preceded in death by his wife. In addition to his children he is survived by a sister, Esther Ehlert of Coral Gables, Florida, and four nieces.
A celebration of Edwin Lightfoot's life will be held at 10:00 a.m., following a visitation at 9:00 a.m. December 2, 2017 in the Landmark (upstairs) Auditorium at the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive in Shorewood Hills.
In lieu of flowers, the family would be grateful for donations in Ed's name to the International Crane Foundation www.savingcranes.org/support-icf, or the Bird, Stewart and Lightfoot Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship Fund at https://secure.supportuw.org/give (Please enter "Lightfoot" after following the link and select "Bird, Stewart and Lightfoot Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship Fund")
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