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Bonnie Robison ’49

Fifty years after she graduated from Reed, Bonnie recalled, “Reed demanded that I stretch my mind and do my best. It was a pleasure to learn and that has always remained with me.”

Born in Portland, she was the daughter of William and Eda Souther. Hers was the first class to enter Reed after World War II, and she was in awe of her classmates who were veterans. Majoring in chemistry, she wrote her thesis, The preparation and identification of 1-chloro-2 methylnaphthalene with Prof. Josef Bunnett [chemistry 1946-52].

“It was a very serious and intense time,” she said of her Reed years, “but some fun could still be found. I shall always remember Dr. Arthur Scott’s [chemistry 1937-67] lecture demonstrations. Many didn’t work, but they were instructive and amusing. My worst experience at Reed was Saturday all-day Organic Lab session in the attic of Eliot Hall. The air would be blue with fumes.”

While at Reed she met and married Michael Robison ’49. The couple divorced in 1961. Having never had a job, she didn’t know what to do. She called her old thesis adviser, Joe Bunnett, who was then on the faculty at Brown University, to discuss possibilities. He invited her to come work as his chemistry research assistant at Brown. She accepted his offer and spent the rest of her professional career at Brown, where she received her master’s degree in pharmacology.

She lived for more than 30 years in the historic district of Providence, Rhode Island, before moving into an assistant living facility on Blackstone Boulevard.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2016

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