California Chemists Centennial Celebration

      By Marinda Li Wu, California Section Chair, originally published in The Vortex, December 2001

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Earlier this year I referred to our California Chemists Centennial Celebration as the "4 C's." I personally breathed a huge sigh of relief after the great success of our recent "4C's" held on October 27 at the beautiful Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts and Massimo's Restaurant in Walnut Creek. It was wonderful to see so many familiar friends and colleagues as well as many new faces. We welcomed 114 guests from near and far including visitors from the Santa Clara Valley Section and the Southern California Section. ACS President, Dr. Attila Pavlath, gave special recognition to sixteen past California Section Chairs and twenty one 50+ year ACS members who attended. A special tribute was presented to Alan Nixon, who served as California Section Chair in 1954 and 1976 and ACS President in 1973. (Alan still attends almost all of our Executive Committee meetings!) We went to great lengths over the last several months to make our "4C's" a very special section event. It has been heartwarming to receive many "thank you" notes expressing thanks for an "absolutely lovely" and "truly memorable celebration of our section's l00th Birthday." It was evident that guests enjoyed both the food and program with comments such as "The poster displays were outstanding, as well as the program and other arrangements!" received in a personal thank you note from a 60+ year ACS member, Lloyd Ryland. We also received thanks from our younger members with remarks such as "The celebration party was wonderful! I liked the food there, and I loved the songs, especially the words of the songs…I learned a lot about the history of the American Chemical Society in California…Thank you very much for giving me this chance to meet and talk with so many famous American chemists there!"

 

Thanks are due to many individuals who contributed (including our speakers Dr. Jim Seiber and Dr. Glenn Fuller, many of our officers and Committee Chairs presenting excellent posters, the wonderful Piedmont High School Troubadours with Shakespeare, and Bob Grinstead's "Centennial Swingers" for their surprise patriotic grand finale on stage). However, I want to express SPECIAL THANKS to two individuals who helped me the most to make this a memorable day for all of us -Nancy Gephart, our efficient local section office manager, and Attila Pavlath, past California Section Chair and current ACS President.

 

Quite frankly, Attila and I have been ta1king about plans for the 4C's" for well over a year ...ever since he convinced me to run for section chair during our Centennial year on the hope that he might be elected to the ACS presidency during its 125th year! However, I must admit that when I first embarked on this project with Attila, the intent was to fly the same professional actors up here who performed in his play "It is Time for a Change" that I saw last spring at the National ACS Meeting in San Diego. I never dreamed that I would end up on stage with Attila making my own acting debut when we were unable to get the professionals! Nevertheless, I am glad we all had fun at our Centennial Celebration that day. ..it certainly was wonderful to see our 50+ year ACS member and past VORTEX editor (for 18 years), Bob Grinstead, come on stage with his big tuba and his fellow "Centennial Swingers" to lead us all in song for the grand finale.

 

            As I write my final Chair's message for 2001, I feel happy that our section has accomplished its major goals to "provide programs and activities to help the career developments of its members" and to "organize and support educational programs which present the positive influence of the chemical professions on society." We are proud to continue as California Section traditions programs such as PROJECT SEED and Family Science Night. These immensely popular and successful public outreach programs started by our section years ago have become models for others around the country. We have also initiated new programs this year to better serve our members such as the CAT (Career Assistance and Transition) group which has met monthly since the beginning of this year and organized a CAT workshop with the help of ACS Career Services.

 

THANKS to all the volunteers who help to make the California Section the outstanding local section it is and has been. (By the way, I had the pleasure of meeting at our Centennial luncheon, Robert Ford, CA Section Chair in 1980. I thank him for pointing out that back in 1981 our section also received the Outstanding Local Section Award from National ACS.)

 

            As I said in my opening remarks at our "4C's," it has been both an honor and privilege to serve as the California Section Chair during the 100th Anniversary of our local section and the 125th Anniversary of the National ACS. I am glad we enjoyed a memorable Centennial Celebration. ...1 found it quite thrilling to see "HAPPY 100TH ANNIVERSARY TO THE CALIFORNIA SECTION OF ACS" in lights on the grand theatre marquee in downtown Walnut Creek for all to note. We can be proud of our section's first one hundred years. ...with Attila's message of not fearing change and pursuing the "Impossible Dream," I have confidence that the California Section will rise to the challenges of the next hundred years as well!