Deceased November 16, 2012
Henry deForest “Harry” Webster, a retired neuroscientist and my father, died in Cockeysville, Md., on Nov. 16, 2012.
Born in New York City on April 22, 1927, Harry finished Scarsdale (N.Y.) High School and enrolled at Amherst in early 1944. He enlisted in the navy in 1945. Returning to Amherst in 1946, Harry joined the glee club and the ski team. He was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and graduated in 1948.
Harry received a Plimpton Fellowship from Amherst and attended Harvard Medical School, graduating in 1952. After teaching at Harvard and the University of Miami medical schools and doing research in neurology at affiliated hospitals, Harry became chief of the section on cellular neuropathology at the National Institutes of Health in 1969. He was appointed chief of the laboratory of experimental neuropathology in 1984. In 1997 he became a scientist emeritus.
The nervous system and how its malfunctioning causes various diseases was Harry’s area of research. His work advanced knowledge of the causes and spread of multiple sclerosis and the development of potential means of treating it. He was also a pioneer in developing and using electron microscopic methods to study normal and diseased cells of the nervous system.
Harry authored or co-authored many articles and several books, including three editions of the Fine Structure of the Nervous System, a reference work in the field. He received numerous awards and honors, including the U.S. Public Health Service’s Superior Service Award in 1977, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Senior U.S. Scientist Award to do research in Germany and the American Association of Neuropathologists’ Meritorious Contributions to Neuropathology Award in 2001.
Harry was devoted to Amherst and contributed his time and insights to its neuroscience program. In December 2011, he donated the William Blake painting The Raising of Jairus’s Daughter to the Mead Art Museum.
Harry’s wife of more than 60 years, Marion, died in February 2012. Their survivors include five children and six grandchildren.
Christopher W. Webster ’75