October 20, 2008--Infrared spectroscopy expert Paul A. Wilks Jr., 85, died Saturday, October 11, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Center in Lebanon, NH, after a brief illness, according to the Darien Times.com of CT. Wilks was born June 16, 1923, in Springfield, MA. He graduated Harvard University in 1944 with a bachelor's degree in engineering and joined the Perkin-Elmer Corporation in Norwalk, CT, that same year. He helped create Perkin-Elmer's analytical instrument division and the development and introduction of its first infrared spectrophotometer.
After several years, he left Perkin-Elmer to start his own infrared sample-handling equipment company, Connecticut Instrument Company, which he later sold to Barnes Engineering. Since that first company, he founded four additional companies--all specializing in instruments and accessories based on infrared spectroscopy. Until his death, Wilks played an active role in managing his latest two companies: Wilks Enterprise Inc., founded in 1995 and located in South Norwalk, which specialized in analyzers for applications such as determining oil/grease in water and biofuels measurements; and his latest business venture, Wilks QC Inc., founded in 2006, and located in Bradenton, FL, which has developed an instrument for the soft-drink industry to measure brix and carbon dioxide.
Over a career spanning more than six decades, Wilks introduced many innovative products to the infrared analysis marketplace. He held numerous patents on infrared instrumentation and sample-handling techniques and published a long list of articles and technical papers on infrared technology. He served on the advisory board of Spectroscopy magazine and he was the recipient of many awards for his contributions to the field of infrared spectroscopy, including the Williams-Wright Award from the Coblentz Society of which he was a founding member, the 2004 Pittcon Heritage Award from the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and the Gold Metal Award from New York Section of the Society of Applied Spectroscopy.
A memorial gathering and celebration of his life will be held at 11:00 am on Sunday, October 26, at the Wee Burn Country Club, 410 Hollow Tree Ridge Road, Darien, CT. Memorial donations may be made in Wilks' name to the Chemical Heritage Foundation, 315 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19106.