Friday, January 16, 2009

Obituaries: Yale Daily News, New Haven Register

Yale Daily News: Sterling Professor Richards, MB&B pioneer, passes away at 83

New Haven Daily Register:


Frederic M. Richards died of natural causes at his home in Guilford, CT on January 11, 2009, at the age of 83. He was a Sterling Professor Emeritus of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry at Yale University.

Fred was born in New York City in 1925. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1944, received a BS in 1948 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a PhD in 1952 from Harvard University. After completing a postdoctoral program at the Carlsberg Lab in Denmark, he joined the Yale faculty in 1955 and remained there until his retirement in 1991.

During his scientific career, Fred was instrumental in determining the structure of the RNA molecule with Harold Wyckoff. He was the first chair of the Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry Department at Yale University. He served as a leader in the National Academy of Sciences, and as the scientific director of the Jane Coffin Childs Foundation.

Besides science, Fred Richards had a passion for sailing. He was an active member of the Cruising Club of America, made two trans-Atlantic crossings to England, and many voyages from the coast of Florida to the northern latitudes off Cape Breton, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Fred and his wife, Sally, were active supporters of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Guilford Land Conservation Trust and its West Woods Trails Committee, and participated in many Faulkner’s Island projects.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Sarah (Sally) Wheatland Richards. He also leaves three children: Sarah O. Richards of Coupeville, WA, Ruth G Richards of Cabot, VT, and George H. Richards of Fairfield, CT, and four grandchildren Benjamin H. Lillie of New York City, George H. Richards III, William S. Richards, and Kate E. Richards of Fairfield, CT.

A Memorial Service will be at Yale Battell Chapel on Feb. 12 at 2:00 p.m. with a reception following at New Haven Lawn Club. Memories may be added at any time to the website: In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Guilford Land Conservation Trust, P.O. Box 200, Guilford, CT 06437 or Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Woods Hole, MA 02543.

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