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1923 - 2024

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Kirby Mitchell Milton passed away peacefully after a brief downturn of health on July 1, 2024, at the age of 101.

Kirby is predeceased by his wife, Kathryn Ann Milton; by his parents, Frances and Clare L. Milton; by his brothers Clare, Robert and Thornton; by his son-in-law Rodney Godfrey and grandson Eric Godfrey; and by his ex-wife, Mary Chase Milton Smith.

He is survived by the children of his blended family: Gillian Milton (Barry Miles), Michael (Diane) Smith, Kirby Milton Jr (Nan Pearson), Timothy (Ann) Smith, Patrick (Nina) Smith, Mary Clare Godfrey, John (Michelle) Milton, Elizabeth (Clyde) Yee; 11 grandchildren; great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

Born and raised in St. Joseph Michigan, Kirby completed his undergraduate work in Chemistry at Harvard (Class of 1944), graduating with honors in an accelerated 3 1/2 year program due to WWII. He was then hired into the Manhattan Project as a chemist, at American Cyanamid Co. of Stamford, Conn. In June of 1944 he joined the US Army. After boot camp he was sent back to Stamford to rejoin the Manhattan Project, tasked with creating the purest form of Boron 11 obtainable to enclose the core of the first atomic weapons, thereby containing the radiation and preventing accidental explosion. Until very recently he never talked about this work; it was classified secret for over half of his life.

After the war, Kirby attended the University of Michigan, earning an M.S. and PhD in Organic Chemistry. He then moved to Rochester, NY where he was employed by the
Eastman Kodak Company from 1950 until retirement in 1985. He specialized in emulsion research and was instrumental in developing the emulsion for a faster X-ray film, thus lessening the exposure time needed for taking X-rays and making them much safer for patients. His name is on more than 100 patents in film emulsion and layering taken out during his 35 year career as a research chemist.

Kirby had a strong belief in the idea of public service and throughout his life volunteered in  various capacities, among them as a scoutmaster for many years, and as a member of the planning board of the Town of Victor, NY. After retirement, Kirby had the time for following his many interests. He loved to drive, and he and Kay went on long road trips throughout the U.S. and Canada. He was an avid fly-fisher and birder, a gardener, a collector and builder of clocks, a wood-worker. Kirby lived independently until a few months before his death; his intellectual capacity never diminished even as his body aged. He is greatly missed, but leaves behind many cherished memories of a full life, well lived.

His death leaves a sorrowful void in so many hearts, but also so many cherished memories of a life well lived. Your discoveries as a chemist have had a positive affect on so many who will never know it was your work they benefited from.

A graveside service is to be held for immediate family.  You can view the livestream of the service on Tuesday, July 9th at 1PM by clicking HERE

 

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