...One of the truly weirdest but most important things I've done in my life was writing my own father's obituary when he unexpectantly died last summer. I had actually gathered most of the information years ago as an exercise for one of my journalism classes back in college, and it certainly made things a little smoother for my family during that tumultuous period...
6/11/00 Obituary of Alan D. Adler
Alan David Adler, a chemist, University of Rochester alumnus, Redding resident for 33 years, and a noted researcher on the Shroud of Turin, died unexpectantly Sunday at his Long Ridge Road, Redding, CT home. He was 68.
Born on Oct. 5, 1931 to Edward J. and Martha M. Margulies Adler in Nyack, NY, Dr. Adler graduated from Haverstraw High School in 1949. He earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Rochester, NY in 1953, and received his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania, PA in 1960, specializing in porphyrins and blood chemistry. At UR, he was active in several groups, including Stagers, a theater group; Quilting Club, a playwright group; the wrestling team; and the fraternity Beta Delta Gamma. Dr. Adler taught biology at UPENN as an assistant professor from 1960 to 1967. He then left teaching and moved to Redding, CT in 1967 to work as an associate professor at the New England Institute for Medical Research in Ridgefield, CT.
It was during his time there that Dr. Adler became involved in the research of the Shroud of Turin, a length of linen housed in the Cathedral of St. John in Turin, Italy which is alleged to have been the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth. What was meant to be a weekend's worth of analysis on a piece of tape holding a few fibers of cloth in 1977 turned into over 20 years of continuing research, lectures, symposiums, and trips around the world as a member of Shroud of Turin Research Project, Inc. (STURP), an international group of scientists dedicated to researching the cloth. Dr. Adler's research proved that the image on the cloth was composed of human blood rather than pigment, a discovery which conflicted with the common assumption that the cloth was a painting created during the Middle Ages. This caused Dr. Adler to become a figure of some controversy and debate among scientists and the media. For over a decade, he traveled across the country to universities, churches, and various civic organizations, describing the history of the Shroud's travels through Ancient and Medieval Europe and explaining in layman's language the often scientifically complex research on the cloth.
Dr. Adler published several papers on the subject in The New York Academy of Sciences and other scientific journals, including "A Chemical Investigation of the Shroud of Turin," "Concerning the Side Strip on the Shroud of Turin" with Alan and Mary Wanger, and "Conservation of the Shroud of Turin" with Larry A. Schwalbe (www.shroud.com/papers.htm). Over the years, he was interviewed hundreds of times by international, national, and local press regarding his work, most recently by Time Magazine in April 1998.
During the past decade, Dr. Adler became very concerned that pollution will inevitably and completely degrade the cloth's image, and focused his research and writings on the need to preserve what he considered to be a religious relic of historical and scientific significance; to this end, he traveled several times each year to Italy to persuade scientists, Vatican representatives, and the family that owns the cloth to take steps to preserve it.
In addition to his research on the Shroud, Dr. Adler also investigated the Cloth of Oviedo, another religious relic, and the Vinland Map. He often spoke at symposiums on archaeological and environmental chemistry. He was an expert witness in several Connecticut court cases, including a landmark products liability lawsuit. In 1995, the Danbury News-Times asked Dr. Adler to review the results of tests on Staten island Harbor sediment which was to be as cover for the New Milford, CT landfill, to determine if the contaminated material was safe. In other research, Dr. Adler held several patents for optics. He is listed in both Who's Who in the East and Who's Who Men of Science.
When the New England Institute closed in 1973, Dr. Adler returned to his first love, teaching, and joined the chemistry department at Western Connecticut State University. He retired in 1992, but remained an emeritus professor and continued to teach at least one class a semester until his death. A dedicated professor, Dr. Adler spent many hours with his students and was often involved in chemistry booths at local high schools and malls to encourage students to pursue chemistry. In addition, he was a member of the collective bargaining committee at the university.
A longtime member of the American Chemical Society and numerous other scientific organizations, he became more involved in the regional branch of the ACS upon retirement. A former boy scout in his youth, Dr. Adler was an active scout leader in Troop 15 during the 1970s.
Known for his collection of over 50,000 books, Dr. Adler was a strong supporter of the Mark Twain Library and served as head book pricer for the annual book fair for over a decade, coordinating about a dozen fellow volunteers in year-round pricing work. He was a member of both the Mark Twain Library Association and the Redding Land Trust.
Dr. Adler is survived by his wife, Jean, of Long Ridge Road; a son, Luke, of Berlin, CT; two daughters, Dana A. Hanson of Silver Spring Lane, Ridgefield, CT, and Chris Adler of Hilton, NY; a grandson, Erik Hanson of Ridgefield; a brother, Frederick Adler of Stony Point, NY; an uncle and aunt, Max and Ruth Margulies of Dunedin, FL; a niece, Guilia Duitz of Monsey, NY, and a nephew, Timothy Adler, also of Stony Point, and several cousins. There will be no memorial services, in accordance with Dr. Adler's wishes. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in his name to The Mark Twain Library, Redding Road, West Redding, CT 06896.
©2000 Chris Adler
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