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Old 02-26-2016, 04:11 PM
John G. Scandalios John G. Scandalios is offline
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 1
Default Kind Memories of Dr. Demerec and CSH

Between 1959 and 1961, I was a graduate student working on the tryptophan pathway of Salmonella in Dr. Demerec’s laboratory. It was, as we all know an exciting time to be at CSH both for the science going on as well as the many opportunities for young people to meet and hear lectures from the scientific elite of the time during the regular seminars and the summer Symposia. I had accumulated many photo slides of the summer activities following the courses given and the famous graduation ceremonies.
A few years ago when I had the opportunity to organize a Banbury Conference, Jan Witkowski asked if I had any materials from those days for the CSH archives. I gave him all the photo slides I had saved, as well as a complete bound set of Demerec’s reprints which he had given to me many years before.
I consider Dr. Demerec as one of the most important people in my life, not only for his scientific mentorship, but also for allowing me to get to know him as a warm and kind person, in spite of his old world formal demeanor.
Towards the end of his tenure at CSH, Demerec was informed that arrangements could not be made for him to continue his work as an emeritus at CSH. However, Howard Curtis, Chair of Biology at the nearby Brookhaven National Laboratory was eager to accommodate him, and began renovations of a suitable laboratory space for Demerec and his group. It was during this period that I got to know him as a person. Every few weeks, he would ask me to accompany him to check on the progress of the new lab at BNL.
He would load up his old car with magazines, mostly National Geographic, and on the way to BNL, he would stop at a local hospital and we would carry the magazines in to be donated. He would tell me stories of CSH and the general area. Once at BNL he would inspect the progress, and I would be on my own to visit friends at BNL. On one such trip, I introduced him to a summer student, Penelope Lawrence, at BNL whom I was dating. On the way back to CSH he suddenly said: “Doh! Scandalios, I believe you will marry this girl someday”. His prediction came true.
The last time Penny and I saw Dr. Demerec, was in 1965 while we were living in Hawaii. Demerec was returning home after delivering some lectures in Australia. He looked us up and asked us to join him for dinner at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel where he was staying. He treated us to a wonderful Luau to celebrate his “prediction” come true. He passed away soon after returning home.
John G. Scandalios
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Old 03-02-2016, 02:15 PM
Rhonda Veros Rhonda Veros is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 2

That is a wonderful tribute to Milislav Demerec, John. There is a lot of information about him in our archives but your personal experience with him lets us see beyond what Dr. Demerec did for CSHL as a scientist and director.
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