Dr. Walter D. Bonner, Jr., emeritus professor of biochemistry and biophysics at PennMed since 1989, died on August 6 at the age of 75.
Dr. Bonner received his bachelor of science in chemistry in 1940 from the University of Utah and his Ph.D. in biology from Cal Tech in 1946. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship with David Keilin at Cambridge from 1949 to 1951, he returned to the United States and achieved associate professor status with Cornell's botany department. In 1959, he joined Dr. Britton Chance of the Johnson Research Foundation at Penn as a professor of physical biochemistry, and later became professor of biochemistry and biophysics when that department merged with the biochemistry department in 1975.
Dr. Bonner had a fertile research career elucidating the respiratory systems of plants. One highlight of his career was his classic series of papers that identifies a unique electron transfer system (the "alternate oxidase") that was used to heat plants. After retiring, Dr. Bonner and his wife, Josephine, moved to their farm in Shanes-ville, PA. He became associated with Albright College as research mentor for undergraduate biology and biochemistry majors, and continued his own research.
Dr. Chance, now the Eldridge Reeves Johnson University Professor Emeritus, called Dr. Bonner "a man of sterling virtues, impeccable integrity, and an intense curiosity of plant biochemistry, especially thermogenesis in the skunk cabbage." Dr. P. Leslie Dutton, the current Eldridge Reeves Johnson Professor, Chair of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and Director of the Johnson Foundation, added, "Walter brought sophistication and creativity to plant bioenergetics. He had a wonderfully dry sense of humor which made his lab a fun place to be."
In addition to his wife, Josephine, Dr. Bonner is survived by two sons, Andrew and Brian; a sister, Priscilla Horton; brothers, James, Lyman, Robert and Francis; and grandchildren, Chris, Ian and Caitlin.
--Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics