Richard Jeffrey (Dick) Field was born early Sunday morning October 26, 1941 in Attleboro Massachusetts to Jeffrey and Edna (nee’ Hawkins) Field. His early education was at St. Mary School and North Attleboro High School, graduating in 1959. With mother Edna’s unwavering support, he went on to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst where he completed a B.S degree in chemistry (1963) and continued to The College of The Holy Cross for a M.S. degree (1964). He graduated from the University of Rhode Island (1968) with a Ph.D. in physical chemistry emphasizing the rates of chemical reactions. He luckily had met and in 1966 married the love of his life, Judith Lauchaire, a fellow chemistry graduate student. They were blessed with two children, Eli in 1971 and Sara in 1975. Judith passed in 2013 after nearly 47 years sharing her life with Dick.
Dick and Judith began their serious life adventure together in August, 1968 when they drove their 1965 VW bug containing nearly everything they owned from Kingston, RI to Eugene, OR, where Dick had been lucky enough to land a research internship with Professor Richard Noyes, Department of Chemistry, University of Oregon. Other strokes of luck soon occurred. Attendance at physical chemistry seminar late on a fall afternoon in 1969 introduced Dick to the so-called Belousov-Zabotinsky Reaction (BZR), a dynamically complex chemical reaction discovered in the Soviet Union and introduced to North America at that seminar. We were among the first to see it. Lucky! The BZR showed sustained oscillations in some chemical species, a behavior not previously unambiguously identified. Dick and Noyes quickly shifted their research interests to the BZR, which became the major focus of Dick’s independent research career. He and Professor Noyes became international pioneers in the area of nonlinear dynamics in chemistry.
More luck. John Froines, a junior member of the UO physical chemistry faculty, was indicted in 1969 as a member of the Chicago-7. He was found not guilty of the charges made against him (building stink bombs) but convicted of contempt of court, later reversed. Froines returned to UO, but as Fall Semester, 1970 approached, he decided to leave UO to become a full-time political activist. With the support of Professor Noyes, Dick was appointed Visiting Assistant Professor to cover Froines’ teaching responsibilities, which he did until 1973.
By 1972 Dick had established a track record in both teaching and research and began a three-year negotiation for a faculty position at the University of Montana-Missoula that included his paying personally for an interview trip. He was appointed Assistant Professor at UM in August 1975. Luckily, UM and Missoula turned out to be the perfect place for Dick and his family.
Dick was focused for the rest of his life on his family and Professing chemistry at UM. He developed an internationally visible research program in chemical dynamics and taught with joy General Chemistry and Physical Chemistry for 33 years, finally retiring in 2008. He was Chair of the Department of Chemistry 1990-6. The whole family traveled much of Europe while spending a sabbatical year at Universität Würzburg 1985-6. Judith and Dick enjoyed together Grizzly basketball, social bridge, and shopping.
The happiest time of Dick’s life was during the years when Sara and Eli grew into the fine people they are. Judith was completely focused on maintaining a loving home for her family. Dick typically could be found either on campus or with his family. Sara did gymnastics and supported her friends. Eli played and coached baseball. There were many family trips and adventures. Later both Eli and Sara made fine marriages producing five wonderful grandchildren.
Dick entered retirement with a plan. Work and family had left little time for his passion of mountain hiking. The plan was to become intimately familiar with iconic places in the Bitterroot Mountains, Glacier National Park, and other National Parks in the western USA. He spent four months as visiting faculty at Waikato University in New Zealand. He rebuilt his love of Grizzly athletics, added a love of Class A softball, and followed the activities of El and Sara’s active families.
Dick was preceded in death by his parents and brother Barry and Judith. He is survived by son Eli (Nicole), daughter Sara (Ian), and grandchildren Tanner Field, Bailey Carlson, MiKaela Field, Tayah Carlson, and Mariel Carlson.