Arnold Orville Beckman Dies
Arnold Orville Beckman, Ph.D., the founder and chairman emeritus of Beckman Instruments, Inc. (now known as Beckman Coulter, Inc., headquartered in Fullerton, Calif.) died on Tuesday May 18th in his sleep at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, Calif. He was 104.
Beckman, a resident of Corona Del Mar, Calif., was born the son of a blacksmith on April 10, 1900 in Cullom, Ill. and became the friend of world leaders. Of all his scientific innovations, Beckman was perhaps best known for inventing the pH meter, an instrument that changed an industry and served as the foundation for the company that still bears his name.
Upon Beckman’s death, Beckman Coulter’s chairman and chief executive officer, John P. Wareham said, “Although Arnold Beckman retired many years ago, he continued to live on in the culture here at Beckman Coulter. His humor, integrity and wisdom were a source of inspiration for employees, making all who met him proud to be a part of the company that is his legacy.”
In addition to his business and scientific achievements, Beckman was recognized as a great philanthropist. Through the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, which he formed with his wife, Mabel, in 1977, Beckman contributed more than $400 million in support of scientific research and education.
Foundation board chairman Ambassador George Argyros said, “Arnold Beckman exemplifies the meaning of the word humanitarian. Combined with his unwavering enthusiasm for life, his keen sense of humor and his strong moral and ethical principles, he is a national icon. He has been my close, long-time friend and mentor. Simply put, Arnold Beckman was truly one of the great Horatio Alger heroes of the 20th century. He will be sorely missed, not only by myself, but by everyone who has had the privilege to know him, and whose lives have been touched by his intellect, inventiveness and his wonderful vision and generosity.”
Dozens of awards and honors attest to the admiration of Beckman’s peers in science, industry and philanthropy. Most recently, Beckman was given the 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame and his pH meter, one of Beckman’s revolutionary inventions, was designated as a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society. During his life he was recognized for his accomplishments by many, including two American presidents. President Reagan presented him with the 1988 National Medal of Technology and the 1989 Presidential Citizens Medal. President Bush awarded him the 1989 National Medal of Science. In 1999, Beckman received the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.
Beckman earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and master’s degree in physical chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his doctorate in photochemistry at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., where he taught from 1928 until 1940. He founded Beckman Instruments, Inc. in 1935 with his first commercial product he invented, the pH meter. It earned him a place in the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1987. In total, Beckman registered 14 patents.