Giants of the Past

Arthur Richard Baldwin (1918-2011)

For well over 100 years, AOCS has been blessed with leaders who have had a profound influence on the growth and future of our society. It has been said that “we stand on the shoulders of giants.” Felix Paquin, David Wesson, along with other charter members, began with a vision for the society that grew despite two World wars and the great depression. Beginning in 1946, Richard Baldwin began his long and distinguished career with AOCS as a member of the journals committee. At that time, membership stood at over 1000, journal pages averaged about 400 per year, and the AOCS headquarters were located in Chicago with a very small staff. Baldwin’s influence on AOCS took place very quickly following the resignation of Harry Roschen as Journal editor in 1948 after ten years service. Baldwin was asked to become the editor but declined because his father became ill and needed help with the family farm. Baldwin took a leave of absence from Corn Products and during his absence; he assisted acting editor Reid Milner with the journal. In February 1949. Baldwin was appointed assistant chairman of the journals committee and in May took over as editor. His advice for building a career in AOCS was simple but profound “volunteers need something to do and AOCS welcomes volunteers.” Such activities included service to divisions or become a reviewer for JAOCS, Lipids, or JSD. Other opportunities included INFORM and the books and special publications committee. Division planning committees meet at the annual meeting and newcomers are always welcome to participate and volunteer as an officer or perhaps as a session chair or a session organizer for the annual technical meeting. In addition, AOCS sections also provide opportunities for volunteer work.

In a 1959 editorial, Baldwin stated that he was often asked, “What can this organization do for me?” He replied to the question that it should be rephrased “What can I do for this organization? This approach was more consistent with the old adage “You get out no more than you put in”.

For over 50 years Dr. Baldwin was an icon in AOCS whose vision, energy, and leadership transformed the society into the premier fats and oils organization in the world. He was born in Palmyra Michigan where his father farmed. Baldwin suffered from allergies so that his family spent part of the year in Florida to protect his health. He enrolled at John Stetson University in DeLand Florida as a chemistry major. It was here where he met his future wife Eleanor Warner, a transplant from Minnesota. They were married in 1942 shortly after he received his BS degree. During his college years, Baldwin played semi pro-baseball in the Central Florida League pitching three days a week and playing third base in between. He was offered a try-out with the Washington Senators but declined to concentrate on his studies. However, he remained an avid sports fan throughout his entire life.

Baldwin chose the University of Pittsburgh for graduate school. It was here that he met Herbert Longenecker and others working on lipids under Professor C. G. King who was well known for his research on Vitamin C. Baldwin was impressed by this ambitious group and decided to join them. In 1943 he received his Ph.D from the University of Pittsburgh. Kings group including Herbert Longenecke , Bernard Daubert were pioneers in the synthesis and characterization of pure trigylcerides. Baldwin, Daubert, and Longenecker authored three publications in 1944 in the Journal of The American Chemical Society describing the properties of mixed linoleic and linolenic acid trigylcerides and fatty acid chlorides. Part of his PhD work centered on the analysis of fatty acids by fractional distillation and spectroscopy. Fatty acid analyses of known mixtures of purified methyl esters (Baldwin and Longenecker) appeared in Oil and Soap in 1945. Also in that same year, Baldwin and Daubert reported a spectrophotometric study of alkali isomerized synthetic gylcerides. Very few modern day chemists would undertake such time consuming and laborious problems with the tools available over 75 years ago. One can be only amazed at the accomplishments made by these lipid chemists of yesteryear.

After a post doctoral fellowship on Vitamin C metabolism, Baldwin began his career in fats and oils in 1944 when he joined Corn Products Refining Company in Argo Illinois. It was here that he began research on package product development, process development, corn germ extraction and lots of plant work. He later remarked, “I kind of became Mr. Mazola “.

Baldwin continued his research focusing on corn and sorghum lipids. He was the first to report the composition of all fractions from the wet milling of corn. Deodorization was recognized as the most important step in edible oil processing. However, the effects on oxidative stability were not clearly understood in the 1940s. Baldwin studied the effects of deodorization on oil stability, free fatty acid removal, and color reduction. (JAOCS, 25, 33-35, 1948) Corn, soybean, and sorghum oils were deodorized and samples taken over time. The results showed that while free fatty acids and color reduction are achieved with increasing time, improvements in Active Oxygen Method (AOM) stability were found early in the deodorization and reached a maximum after 90 minutes at a temperature of 215oC with a vacuum pressure of 8mm Hg. The laboratory results were confirmed with samples taken from commercial deodorizers (9 mm hg, 215oC) with only slight differences in optimum AOM stability (80 vs 90 minutes). Heat bleaching was well known but poorly understood. Improvements in color and stability were attributed to steam stripping during deodorization. Baldwin showed heat alone was responsible. Corn oil was subjected to the following treatments: 1. Heated for 2 hours at 200oC 1mm Hg; 2. Heated for 2hrs and purged with nitrogen, and 3. Deodorized at 200oC 1 mm Hg. The results showed that purging with nitrogen and conventional deodorization both yielded essentially bland/very bland oils having comparable color, free fatty acids and AOM stability. Heat treatment alone produced no changes in flavor but odor changed from crude oil to a pleasant nutty odor.

Baldwin joined AOCS in1945 at the behest of Herb Longenecker and Howard Black. At the fall AOCS meeting, he asked Henry Dormitzerand J.J. Vollertsen whether there was something he could do to contribute to the society. He was immediately appointed to the Journal committee. Harry Roschen who had served as Editor of Oil Soap / JAOCS resigned in 1948 after serving for eleven years. Baldwin was asked to assume the editor position but declined due to his father’s illness as he was needed back home to manage the family farm. He was advised to take a leave of absence from Corn Proðucts (granted). He agreed with the stipulation that he would remain a researĉh chemist. Reid Millner filled in during his absence. Thus in December 1948 Baldwin and Lucy Hawkins (executive secretary and managing editor) assumed the task lasting until his retirement in 1985. Baldwin gave Lucy much credit for not only training him but she was a great team player and a joy to work with. His first challenge centered on a large backlog of papers accumulated largely due to a conservative publishing policy intended to limit the size of each issue. The new editor boldly recommended the papers be published pronto and be kept current. Baldwin quickly realized that a team of Associate Editors was needed to handle the 250 plus annual submissions. This became a reality and Baldwin remarked that he had never worked with a finer and dedicated group. The post WW II period presented an opportunity for AOCS to become known around the world hence the journal name change from Oil and Soap to its present one.

The need for an index for the journal was apparent for a number of years. However, the cost was considerable and required someone to prepare an index covering the years from 1917 to 1952. The latter problem was solved when Dr. Baldwin volunteered to undertake the massive task of indexing 35 years of journal publications, including Vol. 1-7.The chemists section Cotton Oil Press, 1917-1924; Vol. 1-8 of Journal of Oil and Fat Industries 1925-1931; Vol. 9-230 Oil and Soap 1932-1946 and 6 Vols Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society,1947-1952. The 35th Cumulative JAOCS Index was published as a separate volume in 1953.The index (81pages) is composed of four parts: authors, subjects, committees, and news along with a key to the index. In 1951 Dr. Baldwin became the first non-German scientist to receive the prestigious Normann Medal awarded by The German Fats and Oils Society (DGF) . The award was presented in recognition of his work as journal editor.

In 1954 Baldwin left Corn Products to develop a research and development group at Cargill in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The move had no effect on editing because he worked from home. In the early 1960s, AOCS began to attract biochemists and as their membership grew a need to find a home for them became a top priority. Eventually, manuscripts on the biochemistry of lipids were submitted to JAOCS but a logical solution was to publish a new Journal. The Journal Committee and the Governing Board unanimously approved and by 1966 the new Journal Lipids became a reality with Dr. Baldwin as editor. The early 1970s presented further publishing opportunities for AOCS. In 1972, a symposium on tumor lipids produced a number of excellent papers and rather than publish them in Lipids or JAOCS a separate monograph would be desirable. A sub-committee of the publications group was formed to lead the new effort and the first monograph was published in 1974.The monographs, books, and special publications effort has been highly successful thanks to Dr. Baldwin, the contributing authors, and the AOCS staff.

In 1960, an editorial by Baldwin commented on responsibility to JAOCS by the authors. In 1959 technical quality of the papers were overall quite good although some required careful reviewing. In 1958 a guide to authors was published outlining procedures for preparation and review of technical journal submissions. Baldwin believed that authors deserve to have their manuscripts handled without unnecessary delay. A journal owes its authors a broad and interested readership. At the time total circulation of JAOCS was 5000 with a readership of 15000 and was distributed in 60 countries. Baldwin introduced an annual review of the literature and a monthly abstract section covering the entire fats and oils field as well as an expanded news section.

As early as 1963.Baldwin envisioned AOCS becoming a truly international society as a result of the global to need to increase the utilization of fats and oils, increase sales overseas, as well as understand the customers’ needs. To take advantage of the considerable know how of scientists and technologist across the world, AOCS was viewed as an important catalyst. Plans to implement these goals included joint meetings with the International Society for Fat Research (ISF), sponsorship of an International symposium on lipid metabolism in conjunction with annual AOCS meetings. Further cooperation was established with Canadian scientists, as well as visits to the major research centers in Europe and elsewhere.

Slowly but surely his vision was fulfilled. The first joint AOCS /IFS meeting was held in 1970 in Chicago. The meeting exceeded all expectations with over 200 scientists from 22 foreign countries in attendance with over 1000 from the US. The second was held ten years later in New York. ISF congresses were plagued with circumstances beyond their control which lead to cancellations or changes of venue. For example, the 1983 Congress was moved from India to Budapest in 1985 due to the assassination of India’s prime minister. Cancellations occurred In 1991 due to the Gulf War, in 2001 because of the 9 -11 terrorist attacks and postponed in 2011 due to the tsunami in Japan. A Joint AOCS/ ISF meeting was held in Toronto in 1992 ,and in 2018 Minneapolis hosts the congress.

By the early 1970s the goal of AOCS becoming a truly global organization moved closer with the hiring of Jim Lyons as executive director. He replaced Carl Hauber who resigned after 10 years in that capacity. In 1973 the AOCS headquarters moved from Chicago to Champaign. After two years as director, Lyons reported to the membership that in 1971 AOCS lost nearly $50,000, much of which came from the move. The following year, however, a $21,000 profit was realized. His goals were to improve advertising, implement National/International meetings and to expand the membership. The 1974 Annual Meeting was held in Mexico City and from 1971-1973 new members increased from 80 to 246.

In 1973, AOCS began sponsoring World Conferences on proteins with the first one held in Munich and by 1976, the First World Conference on Oilseed processing was held in Amsterdam. Both were highly successful but to publish the proceedings posed the problems regarding editing the papers. After much discussion dedicated issues of JAOCS was selected and by 1985, six had been published as separate journal issues. The 1985 World Congress proceedings held in Cannes, France was published as a hard bound monograph and edited by Dr. Baldwin. Proceedings from the 1989, 1992, 1996, and 2001 World Conferences were also published as separate hard bound volumes.

In 1981 Dr. Baldwin became the first recipient of the AOCS Distinguished Service Award given in his name. For once he was at a loss of words, but only briefly, as he urged attendees to become involved in society activities. He remarked that the processing of fats and oils in the 1940s would not meet the demands of the 1980s so that involvement in AOCS would help to provide the science and technology needed to produce foodstuffs for an ever increasing world population. Baldwin received other prestigious awards including the AOCS Bailey Medal in 1963 and The Chevreul Medal from the French Oil Chemists Society in 1965. He holds the distinction of being the youngest (45) recipient of the Bailey Award. In 1984, Dr. Baldwin became the 20th AOCS member granted honorary membership. That same year his able assistant and mentor Lucy Hawkins for 17 years passed away at age 87.

Baldwin retired from Cargill in 1983 but continued as JAOCS Editor-in-Chief until 1985 when Dr. Thomas Applewhite became the editor.

Dr. Baldwin considered time a most valuable commodity yet he pursued a number hobbies in his spare time. Among them were rock collecting, lapidary work, stamp collecting, photography, woodworking farming, fishing, and playing the organ. He was an elder and trustee in the Presbyterian Church and a fundraiser for the Minneapolis Council of Churches. Those who knew him well described him as someone who was constantly thinking up new ideas for research to benefit his employer, At governing board meetings he would pose many questions in the hope of inspiring the board members to improve AOCS by stepping out of the comfort zone by addressing old problems as well as trying new ideas or ventures.

Notes for further reading:

In 2011, the author of this article was selected to receive the Baldwin Distinguished Service Award. In my acceptance speech I shared some personal interactions with Dr. Baldwin during his long tenure as editor of the journal. I had received a bad review from one of his Associate Editors and felt I had been unfairly treated so I wrote a lengthy letter explaining why my paper should be published. Shortly afterwards, Dr. Baldwin replied “I agree with you and will publish your paper.” I felt good until the next annual meeting when I met Dr. Baldwin who cautioned me saying”Young man I’m giving you some good advice. Don’t ever again put me between one of my Associate Editors.”

The Baldwin Award has some bitter sweet memories. In 1996, Tim Mounts was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. Tim was to receive the Baldwin Award in 1997.Because of his illness. Dr. Baldwin and Jim Lyons made a special trip to Tim’s home in Peoria to personally present the award. Within weeks of receiving that award, Tim passed away, although Dr. Baldwin noted his smile when he presented the award to him. For an 80 year old man to travel from Minneapolis speaks volumes about the dedication and humanity of Dr. Baldwin to the organization and to its members. In 2009 AOCS celebrated its 100th Birthday with Dr. Baldwin in attendance. As a young man he had met Felix Paquin, the 1909 AOCS President, thus spanning a century of AOCS history.

  • Profile: Dick Baldwin JAOCS 54 60A 1977
  • Baldwin Honored with French Chevreul Medal JAOCS 42 535A 1965
  • Hobby Department JAOCS 36 8 1959
  • Editorial JAOCS 63 6 -8 1986
  • Journal Editor receives Normann Medal from DGF JAOCS 27 1951
  • 1981 in New Orleans JAOCS 543A 1981 (Receives Baldwin Award)
  • Technical Publications JAOCS 4 1956
  • Cumulative Index 1917-1952 the experience of 35 Years JAOCS 4 1953
  • Past Presidents A R Baldwin 1961 JAOCS 45 652A 1968
  • Baldwin goes to Cargill JAOCS 31 17 1954
  • The challenge of the future, Report of the President -1961-1962 JAOCS 39 4 1962
  • Responsibility to authors JAOCS 37 4 1960
  • Technical Publications JAOCS 33 4 1956
  • Fats and the needed catalyst JAOCS 40 9 1963
  • Will you invest in AOCS? JAOCS 36 4 1959