In Memoriam, Dick Hemingway 1939-2018

Outstanding tannin chemist and the founding father of the Tannin Conferences, Richard (Dick) William Hemingway has passed away

After a long and rich life as a phytochemist, mentor, and loving husband and father, Dick Hemingway passed away in Pineville, Louisiana where he had lived and worked for many years. He will be missed by his family, by his co-workers, and by the tannin community that he fostered during his long and productive career.

Dick’s research encompassed both fundamental and applied investigations into natural products and especially polyphenols from the forest. He led a long-term effort to explore the chemistry of condensed tannins with the ultimate goal of developing useful economic products from these complex natural products. Dick was truly a pioneer in this complex area of research and his substantial contributions to this field of study can be best summarized as follows: fundamental contributions to the 13C NMR studies of procyanidins; demonstration of A-ring quinone methide intermediates in procyanidin biomimetic syntheses; the synthesis of the first branched trimeric procyanidin; the proposal of a biosynthesis route towards 2,3-cis-procyanidins; his two seminal papers on the base-catalyzed reactions of polymeric procyanidins in the presence of external nucleophiles; the early application of computational methods in conformational analysis studies of procyanidins; the synthesis of di- and trimeric profisetinidins with epifisetinidol constituent units; the association of catechin and procyanidin B-3 with oligopeptides containing proline residues; and his studies pertaining to the preferred conformations of procyanidins in organic solvents and water.

In addition to his scientific accomplishments, one of Dick’s lasting legacies is the Tannin Conference, a unique venue for scientists with very specific interests in tannin polyphenol chemistry and bioactivity. The “First North American Tannin Conference” (1988, Port Angeles, Washington) had a predominance of papers on condensed tannins (proanthocyanidins). The scopes of the second (1992, Houghton, Michigan) and third conference (1998, Bend, Oregon) grew to accommodate an international audience with interests in all types of tannins. The books that Dick edited after these three meetings continue to be invaluable resources, and the community of tannin enthusiasts that Dick formed has continued the tradition of the Tannin Conferences. The 4th – 9th International Tannin Conferences were held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2002), San Francisco, California (2004), Pullman, Washington (2008), Berlin, Germany (2010), Nagoya, Japan (2014), and Madison, Wisconsin (2018), the latter two in conjunction with the International Conference on Polyphenols.

For the full memorial of Professor Dick Hemingway, please see the text by Prof. Daneel Ferreira and Ann Hagerman in Phytochemistry:

We at the Natural Chemistry Research Group hope that we can continue Dick’s legacy of Tannin Conferences during the XXX International Conference on Polyphenols (ICP2020Turku, The Tannin Conference will no longer be mentioned as such in the name of the conference, but remain assured that tannin chemistry will have its central role in the ICP2020Turku as well!