|Aug-20-12|| ||GrahamClayton: Gerald E. K. Branch, was born April 16, 1886, at Basseterre, St. Kitts, British West Indies. In 1904 he entered the University of Edinburgh to study medicine. He passed his First Professional with distinction, winning also the medal in elementary chemistry under Crum Brown. Ultimately, however, he gave up medicine for chemistry. After a brief return home, he entered the Chemistry Department under F. G. Donnan at Liverpool University in 1909. His fellow student and friend, Hugh Taylor, now Professor at Princeton, relates that Branch sustained a brilliant Honours B.Sc. degree examination there in 1911. After a year's research with Titherly he took the M.S. degree in 1912, and became engaged to Esther Hudson, the outstanding woman student at Liverpool, whom he married in 1915. In 1912 Branch left for Berkeley, and Taylor for Sweden and Germany.|
Branch may be considered as having established, at the University of California, the first modern school of theoretical organic chemistry. His extensive study of the relationship of the structure of organic acids with acid strength gave rise to many of the basic notions of induction and mesomerism (resonance) stemming from Gilbert N. Lewis's theory of chemical bonds. Branch's views contributed much to the development of this theory.
The most recent of Professor Branch's interests was the relation of absorption spectrum in dyestuffs and similar organic materials to their structure. This was clearly an outgrowth of his thoughts while writing the Theory of Organic Chemistry. Chapter 6, entitled “Equilibrium--Acid Strength,” is the most complete and thorough discussion of the relation between structure and acidity ever written.
Branch was one of the editors of the Journal of Organic Chemistry from 1936-1952 and a referee for publications in the Journal of the American Chemical Society for many years.
Even while rigorously confined to bed during his first heart attack, he carried on his work in these and other capacities. On the morning of the day of his death, April 14, 1954, during a lecture he felt an oncoming attack. He took a dose of nitroglycerine and finished the lecture.
That afternoon he returned to his office and there his wife found him when she came to fetch him home, at rest forever from his labors.