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U. professor was a leader in metallurgical science

Published February 4, 2013 12:04 pm

Keen scientist remembered as a devoted mentor.
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In nearly a half century as a University of Utah professor, Milton Wadsworth developed a dual reputation as a leading figure in the world of metallurgical science and as a concerned and gifted educator.

He is being remembered for both qualities after his death Thursday in Salt Lake City of pancreatic cancer. He was 90.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Brookshire LDS Ward, 3487 S. 1300 East. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m. Burial will follow at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park, 3401 Highland Dr.

An East High School graduate, Wadsworth returned to the University of Utah after three years of military service during World War II and received his bachelor's degree in metallurgical engineering. He became a part-time instructor while working on his doctorate, then accepted a full-time teaching position upon earning his doctorate in 1951.

By the time he retired in 1993, Wadsworth's résumé included stints as dean of the U.'s College of Mines and Earth Sciences and chairman of the Department of Metaullurgy and Metallurgical Science. He had served as president of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS) and the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers and director of the Utah Mining and Minerals Research Institute.

Wadsworth also had published 145 papers, taken sabbatical years at universities in British Columbia and the Philippines and received honorary doctorates from the University of Liege in Belgium and Colorado School of Mines.

Most importantly, he never let his many responsibilities detract from the attention he paid to students, especially his graduate students, which helped him earn distinguished teaching and research awards from the university, as well as its respected Rosenblatt Prize.

"Milt was so well known and respected, for his scientific prowess and his character," said Jan Miller, who was hired by Wadsworth and is now chairman of the U.'s metallurgical engineering department. "He had keen insight, just a great grasp of science and he was a fine gentleman, very personable and enthusiastic — just what you need for a teacher. He was a great teacher."

Garry Warren, a professor of metallurgy at the University of Alabama and one of Wadsworth's students, said he was inspired by his mentor's active participation in metallurgical organizations.

"Milt contributed back to his profession and encouraged his students to do the same," Warren said, noting that he and another Wadsworth grad student, Ray Peterson, followed in his footsteps as president of TMS. "We went through the ladder of the organization because we were trying to emulate him and pay back to the profession that spawned our careers."

Wadsworth's scientific expertise in recovering processing minerals and metals through water-based processes quietly revolutionized the world of metallurgy, he added. "It contributed to a lot of companies and industries improving their processes, making more money and understanding what they were doing better and, consequently, doing it more efficiently."

Wadsworth was born Feb. 9, 1922 in Salt Lake City to Thomas and Agnes Flockhart Wadsworth. He married Mirian Bailey in 1943 at Fort Douglas.

He is survived by his widow; five daughters, Kathryn Davis, Jane Wadsworth, Amy (David Richardson) Wadsworth, Leslie (Alan) Wadsworth-Smith and Margaret (Richard) Morrison, and 19 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Christine Blanch.


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