Vol. 22, No. 6
Leopold Loening (1924-2000)
Kurt L. Loening
Kurt L. Loening, the world's foremost expert and
leader in chemical nomenclature, passed away at the age of 76 on 12
July 2000 in Columbus, Ohio, USA.
Dr. Loening was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1924.
He also spent a few years growing up in French-speaking countries. When
he came to the United States, he already had an early appreciation of
languages and communications skills. He graduated from high school in
New York City in 1942 and received his B.Sc. degree in chemistry from
The Ohio State University (OSU) in 1944. After a tour of duty with the
U.S. Army Chemical Warfare Service, he returned to OSU to pursue research
in physical chemistry. He received his Ph.D. in 1951.
Dr. Loening joined Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS)
in the same year. His 39-year career at CAS linked him with many of
the persons who were pillars of the organization. In his early days,
he worked under the tutelage of CAS Editor E. J. Crane, former Editor
and consultant Austin M. Patterson, and Associate Editor Leonard T.
Capell. His primary mentor was W. Russell Stemen. In 1964, Dr. Loening
succeeded Capell as Director of Nomenclature at CAS, a post he held
until his retirement in 1990. His early contribution to the development
and application of chemical nomenclature to the Chemical Abstracts (CA)
Volume and Collective Indexes was a thorough documentation of CAS naming
and indexing policies, of which the present Appendix IV of the CA Index
Guide is a direct descendant.
Outside CAS, he served for 25 years as chairman
of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Committee on Nomenclature. He
also participated in the work of all of the IUPAC Nomenclature Commissions.
His most enduring contributions were the reconstitution of the Chemistry
International, IUPAC Commission on Macromolecular Nomenclature (IV.1),
which he chaired for 11 years (1968-1977), and the founding of the IUPAC
Interdivisional Committee on Nomenclature and Symbols (IDCNS), which
he guided for another 11 years (1976-1987). The former produced pioneering
documents dealing with nomenclature of polymers, and the latter assured
conformity of all the IUPAC publications with the approved standards
by establishing a publication procedure that allowed public comment
before official approval of recommendations by IUPAC. He also served
as a Member of the IUPAC Commission on the Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry
(III.1) from 1963- 1983, a Member of the IUBMB-IUPAC Joint Commission
on Biochemical Nomenclature (JCBN) from 1977-1985, and a Member of the
IUPAC Commission on Microchemical Techniques and Trace Analysis (V.2)
Subcommittee on Surface Analysis from 1987-1991.
Dr. Loening lectured and published widely, with
work ranging from articles in journals to chapters in books and encyclopedias.
His nomenclature and terminology topics covered all fields of chemistry,
including history. In national and international circles, he was known
for his patience and ability to reconcile differences of opinion among
chemists of many nations and to forge consensus on sensitive nomenclature
He did not hesitate to tackle controversial subjects
such as recommending an 18-column Periodic Table of Elements, which
is now an accepted standard worldwide, or criticizing some of the more
recent decisions of the IUPAC Commissions.
When asked what he considered the highlight of his
career, he answered that it was the opportunity to help chemists solve
their nomenclature problems. He had often compared chemical nomenclature
with linguistics, and was just as concerned as linguists are about the
precision and specificity of expressions to avoid potential misunderstandings.
In 1987, Dr. Loening received the prestigious Patterson-Crane
Award of the ACS Columbus and Dayton Local Sections for work in the
documentation of chemistry in the development of chemical nomenclature
and terminology. He was also a recipient in 1990 of the ACS Executive
Director's Award for his many years of distinguished service to the
ACS. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement
of Science (AAAS).
In the decade following his retirement, he did not
rest on his laurels. He founded, with Helmi Sonneveld of the Netherlands,
a terminology consulting firm, Topterm, and was the Managing Director
of its North American Division. He was a cofounder and a coeditor of
the journal Terminology. For that achievement, he received in 1997 the
A. A. Reformatskii Prize of the Scientific Board of the Russian Terminological