Cecile Kaplan Dalton, 77, college chemistry teacher

Posted: January 20, 2014

Cecile Kaplan Dalton, 77, of Radnor, a retired chemistry teacher at Philadelphia-area colleges, died Wednesday, Jan. 8, in her sleep after surgery for breast cancer in Houston.

For many years, Dr. Dalton taught organic chemistry at Swarthmore College, Bryn Mawr College, and Temple University. She had a passion for teaching the serious, focused postbaccalaureate students who returned to college to complete the requirements for medical school.

"She enjoyed helping them pursue their dream of becoming a doctor," said her son Aaron.

Born in Chicago, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in chemistry.

Although they grew up eight blocks apart on Chicago's West Side, she and her husband, Dr. David R. Dalton, did not meet until they joined a chemistry club at Northwestern. That provided fodder for endless jokes about the "good chemistry" between them, her son said.

They went on to earn doctoral degrees in chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles in the early 1960s. The two moved to Columbus, Ohio, for postdoctoral work at Ohio State University before settling in Radnor in 1968.

Dr. Dalton loved opera and classical music. After she retired from academia in 1982, she volunteered as treasurer of the Philadelphia Opera Guild.

An avid traveler, Dr. Dalton went to Japan, the Caribbean, Israel, and Florence, Italy, where she would rent an apartment and immerse herself in the language and culture.

"She wanted to learn about the food, wine, art, the Uffizi Gallery," her son said. "What is it the Italians say? 'La dolce vita'? [The good life.] She identified with that."

In recent years, Dr. Dalton had begun spending the winters in Longboat Key, Fla., where she made new friends, volunteered in the library at Temple Beth Israel, and supported the activities of the Mote Aquarium.

Surviving, besides her husband of 56 years and her son, are another son, Nathaniel; daughter Rachel Bailey; and four grandchildren.

A service was held in Norridge, Ill., on Jan. 12.

Contributions may be made to American Friends of Magen David Adom, P.O. Box 52158, Philadelphia Pa. 19115.



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