Cover photo for Hans Reich's Obituary
Hans Reich Profile Photo
1943 Hans 2020

Hans Reich

May 6, 1943 — May 1, 2020

Hans J. Reich, age 76, of Madison, died May 1, 2020 from an injury sustained in a bicycle accident.

Hans was born May 6, 1943 in Danzig, Germany, to Oswald and Martha (Adam) Reich.  Martha and her infant son fled the advancing Russian army during January 1945, making their way to a small village in western Germany.  Hans’ father was wounded in battle and remained in France as a forced laborer for three years following the war.  He rejoined the family in 1948 and they emigrated to Edmonton, Canada in 1950, initially living in a garage without electricity, shared with another family.  These formative years shaped Hans’ perspective on life.  After earning a B.Sc. at the University of Alberta in 1964, Hans entered graduate school at UCLA, receiving a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1968 (with D. J. Cram).  In graduate school, he met fellow organic chemistry student, Ieva Lazdins.  Hans and Ieva married in 1969.  The two were lifelong companions, socially and scientifically.  After graduate school, Hans spent two years as a postdoctoral associate supported by a Canadian National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship, the first at Cal Tech (with J. D. Roberts) and the second at Harvard (with R. B. Woodward).

In 1970, Hans joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, establishing what soon became an internationally recognized research program in physical-organic chemistry.  Fittingly, Hans received the James Flack Norris Award in Physical-Organic Chemistry from the American Chemical Society in 2012.  He gave generously of his time, serving as chair of the organic chemistry division and associate chair of the chemistry department.  Drawing on materials developed for his exceptional graduate-level courses in organic chemistry, Hans curated a website of detailed, practical chemistry resources that is used by organic chemists around the world.  Hans was an exceptional mentor to students, department staff, and faculty colleagues.  He was universally respected for his good judgement and wise counsel.

Hans enjoyed nature photography, snorkeling, and traveling.  He was a learned student of history.  He proudly retained his Canadian citizenship, in honor of the country that welcomed his family at a time of desperate need.

Hans is survived by his wife, Ieva, her brother Andris (Susan) Lazdins, nieces Jennifer (Andrew) Swarm and Jessica (Goran) Vuk, nephew Derek (Kim) Parker, grand-niece Lana Vuk, grand-nephews Aiden and Brett Parker, and many cousins and their families residing largely in Canada.   He was preceded in death by his father in 1977, his stepfather, Rudi Zander, in 1989, and his mother in 2019.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a private funeral service will be held at Midvale Community Lutheran Church.  A celebration of Hans’ life will be held at a later date.

In lieu of gifts or flowers, please donate to Hans’ favorite charities, Planned Parenthood and Brady: United Against Gun Violence, or to your favorite charity.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Hans Reich, please visit our flower store.


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