Emery, William O. (Deceased)
William was born on March 29, 1863, in Vernon, Vermont. He attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute and earned a BS degree in civil engineering in 1885 and in chemistry in 1886. He spent several years in Germany doing applied work in chemistry, physics, geology, and bacteriology, obtaining a PhD degree at the University of Erlangen in 1888 and working in Bonn and Berlin until 1893. He was professor of chemistry at Wabash College from 1895 to 1901 and became chief of the Synthetic Products Lab of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1908. After 1926 he was placed in charge of special investigations of the Food and Drug Administration. He retired in 1933 at the age of 70 and became interested in native plants until his tragic death. According to the coroner, he met an almost instantaneous death on May 3, 1946, at the age of 83, in a fall on a stream bank, which toppled him unconscious into the water of Difficult Run in Fairfax County, Virginia. Fairfax police were aided in their three-day search when they found a half-filled flower basket William was carrying, which contained six newly dug orchid specimens carefully wrapped in a paper bag. He still clutched a small bush in one hand. Police believe he made a desperate effort to recover his balance by grabbing the bush, but that its roots gave way and he fell to his death. He fell only a few feet from a spot where he had planted several wild-growing orchids eight years earlier. He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Chemical Society, the Cosmos Club, the Washington Academy of Sciences, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Xi. William was elected to the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1912. He was president from 1924 to 1928 and was active until his death in 1946.