Evan H. Appelman

Evan H. Appelman

Evan Hugh Appelman, a research chemist and lover of language and astronomy, died Feb. 27 in State College, Pennsylvania. He was 81.

Appelman grew up in Highland Park, the son of Harry Appelman and Mollie Hirsch Appelman. He was a graduate of the University of Chicago and a longtime employee of Argonne National Laboratory and resident of Downers Grove, Illinois. He and his wife, Mary, moved to Kensington, California, in the Berkeley hills, after his retirement in 1995.

In addition to his scientific career, Appelman was an insatiable reader of poetry, plays and literature and an occasional writer. His first published story, "Twas brillig ..." appeared in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1951, when he was 15, and his second, "The Masters of Triage," in Bewildering Stories in 2007, when he was 71. "A Third Acknowledgment" was published by Literate Sunday in its July 2016 Catalogue. At Foxdale Village, where he lived in State College, he was co-editor and a frequent contributor to the literary magazine Miscellany.

Appelman enrolled at age 16 at the University of Chicago, where he and the future astronomer Carl Sagan, who lived in the same dorm, daydreamed about becoming the first men on the moon together.

After graduating with an AB in chemistry in 1953 and a master's degree two years later, Appelman was awarded a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship and earned a PhD in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1960, he began work at Argonne and married Mary Goold, a fellow Berkeley graduate student.

Appelman retired from Argonne as a senior chemist in 1995. He was a leading expert on fluorine and astatine (he wrote the World Book entries for the two elements) and was widely published in scientific journals. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Natural Sciences in 1973, working at Queen Mary's College in London and living with his family in the London suburb of Loughton.

During the Carter Administration, he was called to Washington to work for the United States Energy Research and Development Administration, helping evaluate alternative energy sources. He later was sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to work in Germany and was a visiting senior fellow at Oxford University's Jesus College in 1983 - 1984.

In 1996 Appelman and his wife moved back to the Berkeley area where they had first met. In 2014 they moved to Pennsylvania to be nearer to their children. Mrs. Appelman died on February 25, 2016, after 56 years of marriage together.

The couple traveled widely, including trips to Bolivia and other far-flung locations to view solar eclipses. Appelman loved to share his passion for astronomy and had made plans to take his children and grandchildren to Oregon for the August 2017 total solar eclipse.

Appelman was involved in the Fair Housing and anti-war movements in the 1960s and 70s and worked alongside his wife to support peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

In retirement, Appelman did volunteer tax preparation work and opened a tax preparation and consulting business for a devoted following of clients.

He is survived by his son, Harry Appelman, of Silver Spring, Maryland; Harry's wife, Mimi Brody; and their children, Kira and Lia; and by his daughter, Hilary Appelman, of State College, Pennsylvania; her husband, Will Yurman; and their children, Eli and Auden. His sister, Leta Griffin of Arlington Heights, died in 2016.

Contributions in Appelman's memory may be made to the Hand in Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel, American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), or The Planetary Society.


Published in Suburban Life Publications on Mar. 22, 2017