Joseph Donnay, Hopkins professor

August 15, 1994|By Karen Zeiler | Karen Zeiler,Contributing Writer

Joseph Desire Hubert Donnay, professor emeritus of crystallography and mineralogy at the Johns Hopkins University, died Aug. 8 of heart failure at his home in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec. He was 92.

"Dr. Donnay was a very distinguished person and a major figure at Hopkins for many years," said Francis Pettijohn, a retired geology professor at Hopkins and a colleague for more than 20 years.

Dr. Donnay joined the faculty in 1931 as an associate professor of mineralogy and retired in 1972 as professor emeritus.

After leaving Hopkins, he assumed an unpaid position as a research associate at McGill University in Montreal, where his wife was a professor of crystallography.

Dr. Donnay's son, Albert, described him as a stickler for detail who reveled in correcting mistakes in grammar, spelling and usage.

"It was his recreation to find mistakes of grammar, whether it was a menu or emergency instructions on an airplane or a package of hand wipes," said his son, who lives in Baltimore. This interest "grew out of the care and attention he gave to language in his scientific writings."

Besides French and English, his father spoke German, Spanish, Italian, and some Russian and Japanese. Mr. Donnay said.

Dr. Donnay also enjoyed writing and translating poetry in many of those languages.

"He will be remembered as someone committed to getting it right and as one who set high standards and lived by them," his son said.

Although Dr. Donnay moved to Montreal with his family in 1970, he continued to teach at Hopkins for the next two years, commuting by plane to Baltimore every week.

Dr. Donnay also held appointments at Stanford University, Laval University in Quebec, the University of Liege in Belgium, Harvard University, the University of Utah, the Sorbonne in Paris, the University of Marburg in Germany and the University of Montreal.

Born in Grandville, Belgium, he earned a degree in mining and engineering in 1925 from the University of Liege.

He began a fellowship at Stanford University in 1926 but left for one year to serve in the Belgian army.

He returned to Stanford and received his doctorate in economic geology in 1929.

Dr. Donnay was a past president of the Mineralogical Society of America, which awarded him its highest honor, the Roebling Medal, in 1971.

In 1977, he received the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal in Belgium and also was an honorary member of the Royal Academy.

A member and past president of the Crystallography Society of America, Dr. Donnay had lectured at the University of Paris and several universities in Japan.

He wrote and edited "Crystal Data," a handbook for crystallographers and the first publication of its kind, his son said. The information was gathered from academic papers and journal articles in the early 1950s.

Other professional writings include "The International Table of Crystallography" and more than 140 scientific papers.

Mr. Donnay married the former Gabrielle Hamburger in 1949. She died in 1987.

Besides his son, survivors include another son, Victor Donnay of Bryn Mawr, Pa., and a daughter, Nicole Yoder of Reading, Pa.

Services were held yesterday in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec. A memorial service will be held Sept. 24 at the McGill University chapel.

Memorial donations may be made to the J. D .H. Donnay Memorial Fund, Department of Geology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore 21218.

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