Michael James Steuart Dewar

MJS DewarOn October 10, 1997, MJS Dewar died of congestive heart failure in a hospital in Gainesville, FL. It seems that his death was not difficult.

Since most (if not all) of us use his methods and ideas in our work, we thought it beneficial to take a moment and review just a few of Michael Dewar's contributions to computational chemistry. There is a short (and woefully incomplete) list below. Even more than his direct contributions to the literature (over 600 papers), Professor Dewar sparked people to think differently and in unconventional ways. As many of us know, he was involved in many hot controversies in the literature, all of which had the result of advancing science. Michael Dewar would not let one just plod along in the same old rut. His sparkling prose and inimitable speaking style challenged audiences and stimulated discussions for decades. We think it fitting that Michael died in early October, when the Nobel Prize recipients are announced. His contributions are certainly worthy of it.

A little recent history is probably in order. Professor Dewar left the University of Texas about 1990 and accepted a research professorship at the University of Florida. He worked there on development of the SAM1 method until 1992, when he retired. Michael completely left chemistry when he retired, and enjoyed reading (virtually anything), automobile racing, music, old movies, and Chinese cooking to mention just a few of his many interests. Mary Williamson Dewar, his and wife and best friend of over 50 years, passed away in 1994. There was no memorial service for Michael, and his ashes will be spread with those of Mary in the Lake District of northern England, where they honeymooned many years ago. He is survived by his two sons C.E. Steuart Dewar of Morganton, GA, and Robert B.K. Dewar of New York City.

He challenged those of us who had the great fortune to work with him in ways we never imagined. He was a loyal and caring mentor and was always gracious and kind, even in those painful moments when we insisted on learning the "hard way".

Not just those of us who knew him, but science will miss him. A great man has left us, and we are the poorer for it.

We all hope that he is currently amused.

MJS Dewar Contributions To Chemisty

  • Perturbation molecular orbital (PMO) theory
  • MINDO3 semiempirical method
  • MNDO semiempirical method
  • AM1 semiempirical method
  • SAM1 semiempirical method
  • AMPAC and MOPAC programs
  • Elucidation of reaction mechanisms by application of theoretical methods
  • Basic contributions in the theory and implementation of semiempirical methodology
  • Endless interesting discussions...