Dave Clifford



The Fuel Chemistry Division is saddened to report the loss of a dear friend and colleague.  On September 10, 2006, our Newsletter Editor Dr. David Clifford unexpectedly passed away.


At this site we are assembling a brief biography, some photographs, and any thoughts or remembrances that fellow division members would like to share.




At CentreDaily.com, the following obituary can be found (http://www.legacy.com/centredaily/Obituaries.asp?Page=Lifestory&PersonId=19208083)


December 1, 1967 – September 10, 2006

David J. Clifford, 38, of State College, died Sunday, Sept. 10, 2006, at his residence. He was born in Pottsville, on Dec. 1, 1967, to John H. and Catherine Callaghan Clifford, of Ashland. He married Caroline Burgess on Aug. 23, 2003, who survives at home. He received his BS at Wilkes University, MS at Penn State, and PhD in Materials Science and Engineering (Fuel Science) at Penn State. He was a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church and the American Chemical Society. Previously he worked in the Netherlands at the Oceanographic Institute of Research and Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. He was, most recently, an analytical chemist at the Energy Institute at Penn State University. He was in the Bell Choir and the Trinity Wheelman at the church. He enjoyed mountain and road biking, gardening, cooking, tailgating, traveling, and outdoors in general. He was also a triathlete. He was a regular member of Weight Watchers. In addition to his wife and parents, he is survived by a brother, John T. Clifford, and his wife, Elizabeth A., of Brodheadsville, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Clarence "Jack" and Mary Kane Clifford, of Saint Clair, and James and Catherine Steffanic Callaghan, of Heckscherville. A visitation will be held on Friday, Sept. 15, 2006, from 7 to 9 p.m. and 1:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, 2006, at the Trinity Lutheran Church, 2221 N. Oak Ln., State College, PA 16803. The funeral service will follow at 3 p.m., at the church, with the Rev. Ronald C. Miller Jr. officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Trinity Lutheran Church or to a charity of your choice. A guest book can be signed at www.heintzelmanfuneralhome.com.

Published in the Centre Daily Times on 9/14/2006.




Contribution from Semih Eser. The joy of having known Dave must overcome the pain we feel for shattered plans and unrealized hopes. Quietly and with extraordinary modesty, Dave made his mark by great contributions to science, camaraderie, friendship, sportsmanship, and to "just having plain and pure fun," as Caroline put it.

Dave was the pillar of strength for graduate students at the Energy Institute, the analytical guru who solved their problems. On our trip to the West in 2000, he became Brother Dave overnight to a group of undergraduate students who had just met him as Dr. Clifford.  It is nice to remember how much Dave enjoyed that trip, driving one of the two Suburbans over 1500 miles in less than two weeks, always with a twinkle in his eye.

  By raising Dave, his parents presented a gift to this world.  They have so much to be proud of, yet I feel that Dave inherited their modesty.  With admiration, I bow to Dave¹s parents' strength and grace.  I also admire his brother's and Caroline's strength and determination to move on as Dave wanted them to.  Power to them, and power to all gentle souls and kind people.  Dave¹s memory will live on to softly and gently brighten the way.


Contribution from Randy Winans.  I was shocked and very saddened when I was informed of Dave’s passing.  Dave was a great guy and a friend.  He did part of his thesis studies in my group at Argonne and returned later on a post doc appointment.  Dave did some very nice work which resulted in a number of excellent papers.  More recently Dave and I worked together in the ACS Fuel Chemistry Division.  Dave had a personality which made it easy to work with him.


However, my best memories have nothing to do with science.  In 2003 I visited Penn State to present the Given lectures and stayed with Caroline and Dave.  I have been involved in cycling most of my life and started with mountain bikes about 10 years ago which was one of Dave’s passions.  While visiting he loaned me his new bike and we road on a single track trail near their home.  During that ride I convinced him that he should ride in the Iceman, an off road bike race held in November in northern Michigan.  He and Caroline drove out that year for the race.  It was a challenge since it snowed 8 inches prior to the start of the race and it was slippery just driving to the start; the race was delayed because the timers were caught behind an accident.  It was even more slippery on the trails with lots of crashes.  However, Dave was hooked and returned the next two years to ride.  He was signed up for this year and had bought a road bike to get in better shape.  He did okay the 1st year but kept getting better each year.  Dave enjoyed the challenge and was looking forward to improving his time to under 2.5 hrs which is not bad on 27 miles of single track with lots of sand.  As I sit here writing this I realize that I will really miss him.




Dave is riding up a hill at the half way point in the 2005 Iceman.  See the attached movie for a clip of Dave in Iceman action.

Note that his brother John will be taking his place in this year’s race.


Contribution from Katie Carrado.  Sometime in the early-mid 1990’s I remember a quiet young guy joining our Coal Chemistry Group in the Chemistry Division as a graduate student working on a thesis project. That’s him at the back right in the 1994 photo of 8 young folks working in the group at the time (postdocs, students, etc.).




Unfortunately we didn’t work on any of his research projects together.  But Dave always stood out as the one with the low-key, drop-dead funny sense of humor.  Recently I happened to run across a copy of his 1996 thesis that is here at Argonne (if someone would like to have it please let us know).  The thesis committee signatures include those of Patrick G. Hatcher, Ken B. Anderson, Semih Eser, Robert D. Minard, Harold H. Schobert, and Alan W. Scaroni.  Page 39 has a figure of a “Gregar Extractor”, a unique variation of a Soxhlet extractor designed by Ken and the scientific glassblower here at Argonne (and coincidentally my husband), Joe Gregar.  If I remember correctly, Dave returned to Argonne for some period of time after his stint in the Netherlands.  I was surprised that he had been there for something like a year but had never bought a car.  Rain or shine or snow, he got around via bicycle.  Perfect training for his later Iceman competitions with the Coal Chemistry Group Leader, Dr. Randy Winans. 


After Dave left Argonne, we met semi-regularly at the ACS meetings.  Below are two photos from FUEL division dinners.


New Orleans


(l-r) Johathan Mathews, Dave Clifford, ?, Mark Badger

On the porch of a 2nd-floor restaurant in the French Quarter, New Orleans, in August 1999 (during a stiflingly hot and humid evening)




(l-r) ?, Caroline Burgess-Clifford, Jerry Hunt, Dave Clifford

At Navy Pier, Chicago, August 2001.