Chemistry department chair developed an entire laboratory curriculum
PAUL LEPSE, professor emeritus of chemistry, died of cancer July 19, 2019, at the age of 82. Raised in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, Lepse had a firm calling from a young age.
Just three years after graduating from Seattle Pacific College with a degree in chemistry, the Class of 1958 alumnus earned a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Washington. From 1961 to 1962, he was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the University of Munich. In 1963, Lepse returned to SPC, this time as a professor.
During his 39 years at the university, Lepse developed an entire laboratory curriculum in organic chemistry, co-authored the lab manual in preparatory chemistry, and served as the Chemistry Department’s department chair for 10 years. He also team-taught freshman-level science classes such as, “Introduction to the Nature of Science,” with colleagues including Bruce Congdon, then an assistant professor of biology.
“Paul was one of the regular team members, since we always had a chemist, a biologist, and a physicist working closely together on this course,” Congdon, now interim provost, recalled in an email. “Paul was a seasoned teacher, and I remember learning much from him, not only about how the natural sciences are interconnected, but about navigating the intersection between Christian faith and science, and how to care for students. I count it a blessing to have worked with and learned from him.”
Active with the American Chemical Society, the American Scientific Affiliation, and with Ballard’s United Evangelical Free Church, Lepse also enjoyed hiking, baseball, and classical music. He was a member of the Highpointers Club, a group devoted to reaching the highest point of each of the 50 states. By the time of his passing, he’d reached the highest point of 42 states.
Lepse is survived by Jean, his wife of 58 years, sons DAVID LEPSE ’87 and DWIGHT LEPSE ’87, three grandchildren, a brother, and extended family members, including nephew DAN LEPSE, SPU sports information director.