Durham - Dr. Alexander “Sandy” Renton Amell, beloved father and grandfather, passed away on February 26, 2013 at his home in Durham, surrounded by his four children.
Sandy was born March 3, 1923 in Clarksburg, Massachusetts to Agnes (Renton) and Louis Amell. He attended Drury High School in North Adams, MA, graduating in 1940. He went on to enter college at Massachusetts State College in Amherst, MA, but his college career was interrupted by WWII, and in June of 1943 he entered the US Army cavalry unit. With notice the cavalry was becoming “dismounted”, he transferred to the US Army Air Corps with hopes of becoming a pilot. Once test results came back, although he had qualified for pilot training, his navigational scores were much higher, and so he was sent to navigation training in Hondo, TX. He graduated from Navigation School in 1944, was sent to Boca Raton for over-water training, then was assigned to the 29th bomb group in Pratt, KS. Sent to Guam in February of 1945, Sandy flew 35 missions over Japan as Navigator on a B-29 called “City of Springfield”; 6th squadron of the 29th bomb group of the 314th wing of the 20th Air Force. During this time he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with three Oak Clusters, and two Presidential Unit Citations. Upon his return from Guam in the fall of 1945, he married his college sweetheart, Allison Moore, and then returned to MSC in September of 1946. After graduating with the class of 1947, the first class to graduate from the newly appointed University of Massachusetts, he attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, and in 1950 was awarded a PhD in Chemistry. He went on to become a faculty member at Hunter College in New York City from 1950-1952; Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania from 1952-1955; and finally the University of New Hampshire from 1955 until his retirement in 1988. While at UNH he was Head of the Chemistry Department for 15 years; Fulbright Professor of Chemistry, University of San Marcos, Lima, Peru in 1964; and Interim Dean of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences from 1981-1983. He received the John A. Timm Award for Outstanding Teacher of Chemistry from The New England Association of Chemistry Teachers in 1977. In 1988, he received the first annual Distinguished Professor Award from the University of New Hampshire and was also appointed Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at UNH. In 1992, he received the Howard Wagner Award from the New Hampshire Science Teachers Association for Outstanding Service to the Advancement of Science Teaching. Sandy and Allison loved to travel, and during his summer breaks from school they would usually be on the road to a National Park or two with a carload of children, towing a pop-up camper or, later on, in the “Buggy”. A highlight of these “Buggy” adventures was a trip to Alaska in 1974 on the then-unpaved Al-Can Highway with Jane and Becky and three of their teen-aged girlfriends. (He had the patience of a saint!) After Sandy's retirement, he and Allison toured the South and Southwest, which they both loved, extensively and had many unusual and fascinating experiences.
Sandy also enjoyed hiking, golfing, marquetry and doing volunteer work for many organizations including the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire; Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge; the NH Cancer Society and the American Red Cross. He was also active in the Durham Historical Society, but his favorite activity was spending time with family and friends. He will be remembered for his smile, his kindness, his intelligence, his generosity, his sense of humor and his red socks. He was a patriot, scholar, teacher, mentor, role model, friend, father and grandfather who will forever be missed by all who knew and loved him.
Sandy is survived by his four children; A. Renton Amell and his wife Carol Loeppky of Kenora, Ontario, Nancy A. Renton and her husband David Houdlette of Westbrook, ME, Jane A. Elwell and her husband Mike of Westbrook, ME, and Rebecca A. Casimiro and her husband Mike of Lee, NH ; and four grandchildren; Sandy Amell of Ontario, Canada, Matthew Amell of Ontario, Canada, Shane Casimiro and his wife Lauren of Dover, NH and Nicole Casimiro of Lee, NH.
He was predeceased by his wife, Allison M. Amell and his brother, Louis “Bud” Amell, Jr.
A service to celebrate Sandy’s life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 11th, 2013 at the Durham Community Church. Red socks and bow ties welcome.
Visit www.kentandpelczarfh.com to sign an online guestbook.