Robert Walton RC’48, GSNB’53 holding up newspaper


Andrew Welsh-Higgins/The Associated Press

When Robert Walton was drafted in 1942 to see combat in World War II, he remained in the United States to fight. Walton RC’48, GSNB’53, who had been a chemist for Merck & Co., was ordered to return to his laboratory to help build an inventory of penicillin, first tried on humans only the year before in England and in woefully short supply. Burdened by the war effort, England had turned to the U.S. government and the nation’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturers to mass-produce the antibiotic. Walton, who was 103 when he died in September, helped develop mediums for the submerged growth of penicillium, the mold that is vital for large-scale production of penicillin and instrumental in saving millions of lives during the war and after. Walton, who lived in Columbus, Ohio, was honored by the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart during national Purple Heart Day on August 7. “Well, it was just my job,” he said.