F. Gardiner Pearson, research chemist

F. Gardiner Pearson
F. Gardiner Pearson
Posted: April 14, 2013

F. Gardiner Pearson, 98, of Strafford, a longtime research chemist and amateur radio enthusiast, died Wednesday, April 3, of a heart attack at home.

Born in 1914 in the Philadelphia suburbs, Mr. Pearson graduated from Episcopal Academy and Haverford College and in 1941 earned a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania.

After graduation, he was hired as a research chemist for the American Viscose Corp., in Marcus Hook, which was later absorbed by FMC Corp., a chemical manufacturing company in Philadelphia.

In the course of his career, he earned three patents for his research on synthetic materials and was given increasing responsibility because of his management ability, his family said.

His final job before retiring in 1976 was heading an FMC research and production facility in Marcus Hook.

He was a member of the Society of the Sigma Xi, which is devoted to the promotion of scientific research, and a 61-year member of the American Chemical Society. The society honored him in 2002 for 50 years of service.

The pastime that most fascinated him, however, was amateur radio. He preferred "continuous wave," a mode of communication in which the operator interrupts a continuous transmission with "dits" and "dahs."

He became so skilled in sending and receiving Morse code, that he qualified for his extra class license and membership in the Society of Wireless Pioneers.

"In order to get your extra class license you have to send and receive at 25 words a minute, and that's going some," said his son Gardiner P. Pearson.

Mr. Pearson had other hobbies - fly-fishing, target shooting, meteorology, growing roses, reading, and music. He told family that he once stood in for a rodeo cowboy too sick to perform trick-rope spinning in Atlantic City.

In the 1930s, he and a friend put on magic shows to help pay their way through college. He did fire-eating while the friend swallowed a sword, his son said.

Mr. Pearson also taught himself to play the guitar, the banjo, and the piano.

The Pearsons are descended from Thomas Pearson, who came to America in the late 1600s with William Penn and received a land grant near Lawrence Park in Delaware County. He farmed and inspected roads.

Mr. Pearson was a member of the Society of Colonial Wars in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as well as the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution.

His family said Mr. Pearson will be remembered for his integrity and as a gentleman who was courteous to all; he was kind and had a good sense of humor.

Surviving, in addition to his son, are his wife, the former Charlotte Pennypacker; two other sons, Isaac P. and David R.; two grandchildren; a great-grandson; and a sister and brother. Another sister died previously.

Plans for a memorial service are pending.

Donations may be sent to PLAN of PA, which provides services to the families of adults with mental disabilities, via www.planofpa.org.

Condolences to the family may be offered at www.stuardfuneralhome.com.


Contact Bonnie L. Cook

at 215-854-2611 or bcook@phillynews.com.

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