John BirminghamOctober 27, 1929 ~ April 24, 2017 (age 87)
Dr. John M. Birmingham, aged 87, of Longmont, Colorado passed away on April 24, 2017. John is survived by his children, James, Kim Kanas, and Scott; his wife Janet and step daughters Pam Adler, Mary Poll, and Lisa Fix. He is also survived by many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was proceeded in death by his parents, an infant brother, and his brother Bascom W. Birmingham of Boulder. John was born in 1929 in Beatrice, Nebraska to James and Stella Birmingham. His father was Union Pacific locomotive engineer which sparked John’s life-long interest in steam locomotives and historical railcars. In 1961 he purchased a 1906 Baldwin steam locomotive from the Great Western Railroad in Loveland, and in 1967 he founded the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad with his wife Miriam. In 2007, he founded Hudson Terminal Rail Services of Hudson, Colorado. John received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his PhD from Harvard, also in chemistry. In October of 1952, John was the first person to prepare an organic compound of zirconium which later led to this discovery of ways to produce advanced polyethylene films, other polymers and complex natural products. At Harvard John studied under Dr. Geoffrey Wilkinson who in 1973 received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work stemming from this period. John and Miriam in 1961 founded Boulder Scientific Company which today is major supplier of specialty chemicals based in large part on John’s early work at Harvard. Funeral services will be held at the First Congregational church in Boulder at 1128 Pine Street on May 6th, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.