A Mind and Heart at Work
by Clare Coppa
Listening to their fathers lectures at the dinner table in the
1940s, Mary Ann Worthington and her siblings got hooked on scienceshe
became a chemist and her brothers, chemical engineers.
Worthington is the vice chairman of ASTM Committee E01 on Analytical Chemistry for Metals, Ores and Related Materials.
Chemists provide invaluable pre-certification of product materials.
It is awe-inspiring, because most people dont think about it,
and the reason they dont, is that chemistry has done such a good
job, she said.
Fresh out of the University of Massachusetts in 1958, Worthington
took part in developing a new class of synergistic polyethylene
antioxidants containing conjugated hydrocarbons and sulfur-containing
organic compounds for Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill,
N.J. Deciphered, this means she helped to develop better coatings
for colored telephone wires.
During two years at Bell, she completed nine publications and
three patents, showing early signs of what ASTM manager Tom OToole
calls a knack for pinning down logical solutions to the many challenges
of standards development. I really do love research and methods
development and methods documentation, she said. Its a nice
feeling to write a methodwhether its an in-house method or an
ASTM methodand have all the directions down on paper, crystal
clear, so someone can follow them, use them, and get the correct
Relocating to Connecticut, Worthington spent the next 18 years
teaching chemistry at the University of Bridgeport while raising
three children with husband Dave, a telephone company manager.
Later, she moved to Handy and Harman in Fairfield, where she worked
for two decades, becoming chief chemist. During this time, she
chaired ASTM Subcommittees E03.05 on Non-Ferrous Metals and E01.03
on Precious Metals, and served on the Committee on Standards.
Her father may have liked science but was a Methodist minister
by profession, active in community outreach. An arm of a World
War II relief effort organized by numerous churches, CROP (Communities
Response to Others Poverty) intrigued Worthington as a girl and
became a lifetime activity.
In 1945, we got an urgent call, Have a clothing drive, winter
is coming over in Europe and we need used, warm clothing of any
sort. Our church put together a number of boxes and in one of
the boxes, I included my name and address. I was nine years old.
Lo and behold, I received a wonderful letter from Salome Rohaly,
a Lutheran ministers daughter in Hungary. She described how wonderful
it was to have warm clothes and she and I became penpals.
Since 1975, Worthington has helped to organize the Greater Bridgeport
CROP Hunger Walk. Last year, it raised $80,000; 25 percent aided
the needy in Connecticut and the remainder went to refugee rehabilitation
and disaster relief in areas such as Kosovo and Turkey.
Worthington volunteers to end hunger for children in memory of
her son Bruce, who died at age three from birth defects. I thought
about normal living children, she recalled. They have every
chance for life, and theyre either going to starve to death or
die of a disease related to malnutrition? Thanks to CROP walk,
more children have a chance.