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Robert C. Rittenhouse, chemist, conservationist Nov. 19, 1921 -- June 20, 2007

A memorial service for Robert C. Rittenhouse, a chemist and conservationist, will be at 7 p.m. next Wednesday in Island Presbyterian Church, 1822 Huth Road, Grand Island.

Mr. Rittenhouse, of Amherst, died June 20 in Millard Fillmore Hospital of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 85.

The former Grand Island resident was a past president of the National Chemical Marketing Association and a member of Grand Island's Quality Quest conservation association.

Born in Washington, D.C., he moved to the Buffalo area with his family in 1930 and graduated from Amherst High School. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Buffalo in 1943 and his master's from UB in 1958.

Mr. Rittenhouse enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1943 and was assigned to a B-17 bomber crew based near Ipswich, England. His first World War II combat flight was in support of ground troops during the Battle of the Bulge. Because of their bravery, the crew was asked to lead the formation during subsequent missions -- a position that invariably drew heavy anti-aircraft fire. By the time he was discharged in 1945, Mr. Rittenhouse had survived three near-crashes.

The following year, he married Audree Oughterson, a noted Western New York artist. After earning a master's in organic chemistry from the University of Minnesota, he spent four years at General Mills in Minneapolis on a team that invented Bisquick and other food products.

In 1954, the couple returned to Western New York, where he worked for Mathieson Chemical and Union Carbide and then was director of plastics markering for Hooker Chemical -- all in Niagara Falls. After Hooker was sold to Occidental Petroleum, he spent six years in the New York City area, where he commuted to work on a motorcycle.

Mr. Rittenhouse retired to Grand Island in 1978 and, after joining Quality Quest, spent more than five years mapping the island's hiking trails. During summers, he and his wife were hosts at Chautauqua Institution's Church of Disciples House.

He was a past district governor of Toastmasters International and was an active lay minister in the 1950s and early 1960s.

His wife died in 2002.

Surviving are three daughters, Laura, Eileen Bowen and Amy Hoescht, and a sister, Marie.


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