Alan D. Mighell, Gasper J. Piermarini, Winnie K. Wong-Ng
Howard F. McMurdie - known as Mac to his friends oa colleagues--was an exemplar of good living. Blessed with excellent health, a loving family, and many close colleagues, Mac was active and productive to the very end. It is therefore with the deepest regret that we report the death of Howard F. McMurdie at 99 1/2 of pneumonia only a few months before an anticipated 100 year birthday celebration (although according to several oriental calendars he was indeed 100 1/2). Mac's death marks the end of an era--his life spanned almost the entire 20th century and, seen in reverse, it would go back almost to the time of George Washington. His fruitful scientific career of 75 years began in 1928 and spans 3/4 of the history of NIST/NBS (National Institute of Standards and Technology/National Bureau of Standards) and the entire history of the JCPDS (Joint Committee on Powder Diffraction Standards/International Centre for Diffraction Data). This time period included the entire history to date of two important widely used scientific databases in which he played a critical role--the Powder Diffraction File and the Phase Diagrams for Ceramists. Although Mac officially retired from NBS in 1966, he continued to work as a consultant in crystallography until 2003. During his real retirement party at NIST in April 2003, he was awarded a special certificate of appreciation for his significant contributions to the Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory of NIST during the past 75 years. The certificate noted that McMurdie's research interests encompassed areas such as measurements of phase equilibria and reference powder X-ray patterns, characterization of solid-state materials, compilation and evaluation of data for Phase Equilibria Diagrams, and for the Powder Diffraction File. During the final two years of his life, he continued to interact scientifically and socially with his colleagues at NIST and served as an invaluable consultant on a variety of topics.