Richard Patrick Wool, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering

In memoriam

University memorial service for Prof. Richard Wool to be held April 15


12:56 p.m., April 6, 2015--A celebration of life and career for Richard Patrick Wool, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and director of the Affordable Composites from Renewable Sources (ACRES) laboratory at the University of Delaware, has been scheduled for 5 p.m., Wednesday, April 15, in Mitchell Hall.

Dr. Wool, a member of the UD faculty since 1994, died unexpectedly on Tuesday, March 24. He was 67.

“We will remember Richard for his many academic and professional accomplishments, but even more for his legacy as a gentle soul, a mentor, and a positive, guiding force in our campus community,” said Provost Domenico Grasso.

"Richard was a remarkable scientist, engineer and researcher," said Babatunde Ogunnaike, dean of the College of Engineering and William L. Friend Chaired Professor of Chemical Engineering. “But above all of that, he was a genuinely good person. He was truly one of a kind and a blessing to those of us who had the great honor of knowing him.”

Abraham Lenhoff, Allan P. Colburn Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, said, “Richard’s passion for developing materials from renewable resources included mentoring the next generation of green engineers, and made him a highly visible spokesman for the area. At UD his elective courses in bio-based materials and green engineering were enormously popular with students in chemical engineering and beyond. We will miss his irrepressibly positive outlook, good humor and, of course, his leadership of a very important field in our discipline.”

“Richard was an outstanding teacher, researcher, adviser and mentor,” said John W. (Jack) Gillespie, director of the Center for Composite Materials. “He was also founder of Affordable Composites from Renewable Sources, for which he was world renowned.”

Born in Cork, Ireland, to Patrick and Nora Wool, Dr. Wool met his wife, Deborah Fitzgerald Wool, at University College Cork Ireland in 1969 and moved to the United States where they married and started a family. He completed his bachelor of science honors degree in chemistry at the University College Cork Ireland in 1970 and his master's degree (1972) and doctorate in materials science and engineering  (1974), both from the University of Utah. 

After teaching at the University of New York and the University of Colorado, the Wools moved to the University of Illinois, where they lived for 18 years and started a family with their three daughters, Sorcha, Meghan and Breeda. In 1995, the family moved to Delaware and Dr. Wool taught as a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Delaware until his death.

Dr. Wool had many accomplishments throughout his personal and professional life. He brought great joy to everyone with his generosity, kindness, humor, music, wisdom, and love of life. A life-long sailor, he treasured the times he could bring others with him to enjoy his favorite pastime. His guitar music sessions were special gifts enjoyed by many throughout the years. His daughters said they feel extremely grateful for such an incredible father, who always took care and time for them, regardless of how busy he was with work.

Some of his professional accomplishments include winning the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award and being elected a fellow of both the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Physical Society, Division of High Polymer Physics. 

He published more than 150 papers and two books, and he held four patents. 

Dr. Wool was a guest professor in the Physics Department, Trinity College Dublin, 2002, the Ecole Polytechnique, Condensed Matter Physics, Paris, France, 1991 and the Politecnico DiMilano, Natta Laboratory, Milan, Italy, 1984. 

He is survived by his wife, Deborah Fitzgerald Wool; daughters, Sorcha Wool Rocklein and husband Steve Rocklein of Miami, Florida, Meghan Wool of Arlington, Virginia, and Breeda Wool and partner Matt Friedman of Los Angeles; sisters, Margaret Spencer and husband Richard Spencer of England and Chris Soltis and husband John of Salt Lake City, Utah; and nieces and nephews, Dominic, Ciaran, Ian and Anna Spencer, Adrian Pattinson and Jacqui McLelland and John and Elizabeth Soltis. 

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware in memory of Dr. Richard Wool. Gifts will support the Dr. Richard Wool Award for Women in Green Chemistry. Please send contributions to: University of Delaware, Gifts Processing, 83 East Main St., Third Floor, Newark, DE 19716. Make checks payable to "University of Delaware" and include on the memo line “in memory of Dr. Richard Wool.” Gifts can also be made on the University of Delaware’s secure website,

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