Legendary Members: Marston Taylor Bogert

By Edward Werner Cook. From The Retort, Sept. 2011.

b. 18 April 1868 – d. 21 March 1954
Charter Member and President, Chemists’ Club 1908

For over a half century “Colonel” Marston Bogert was the congenial face and eloquent voice of The Chemists’ Club. By any measure in any age, his academic history was unique. A student at Columbia, he was enrolled in Organic Chemistry when the instructor took ill and the class was told to “educate themselves”. He did, and never went to Germany to complete his chemical training, and so, without formal education in organic chemistry, authored hundreds of papers and remained at Columbia until 1939 when he became Emeritus Professor of Organic Chemistry in Residence. He was “Doktorvater” to many distinguished researchers including M. Heidelberger and F. D. Snell. In the Great War, he was an officer in the Chemical Corps, whose insignia is a benzene ring and crossed retorts, retiring as Colonel, a title that remained throughout his professional life. Clark University awarded him an LLD in 1909 and Columbia a ScD, h.c., in 1929. He received numerous awards and medals, including the Nichols Medal in 1905. He was charter member of Columbia’s Chapter of Sigma Xi, active in the American Section of the Society of Chemical Industry and President of the parent organization in London in 1912, and President of the IUPAC in 1938.

Colonel Bogert presided over so many banquets at The Chemists’ Club that the dining room was renamed The Bogert Room in his honor.

Perhaps most memorable, he was Master of Ceremony presiding over the Perkin Medal Awards for generations. This Award had a unique tradition: at the Inaugural Award in 1906 all wore mauve bow ties. Subsequently, only those who participated in the seminal event wore mauve ties. By 1952, only three men could wear these ties: Bogert, Wallace Cohoe (President The Chemists’ Club, 1945-7, former SCI president) and Marz (former New York City Controller). In 1953, the torch was passed to Cohoe and all guests again wore traditional mauve ties.

Banquet 6 October 1906 celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Perkin’s discovery of Mauve. Dinner at Delmonico’s for 400. All guests are wearing mauve bow ties.

High Table: l. Remson, Nichols, Clergy, Perkin, Chandler, Schweitzer

Seated center William Henry Perkin on his left Charles Chandler, on his right a clergyman and on the clergy’s right William Nichols (member, Chemists’ Club and founder of Nichols Medal Award 1903), on the far right (Chandler’s left) is Dr. Hugo Schweitzer who gave a keynote speech. Far left, possibly Ira Remson (member, Chemists’ Club) who also spoke. During his stay in New York, Perkin was guest at Chandler’s home.

Also, present: Walther Nernest, Wilhelm Ostwald, Dr. Wiley (founder of Pure Food laws), and lower center may be Professor Morris Loeb. Lady Perkin and two of their daughters were also to be present but, typical for that period no ladies are seen near the Head Table.

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