Wendell Mitchell Latimer was born on April 22, 1893, in Garnett, Kansas. When Wendell was three, his father, a banker, moved the family to Kansas City to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by a larger city. The tragic death of his father from typhoid 5 years later put a financial strain on the family and forced Wendell and his mother to live with his grandfather on a farm in nearby Greeley, Kansas. Wendell was an only child and describes his boyhood as happy and a “typical farm boy's life.” Through his mother's perseverance he got a good education and entered the University of Kansas. His plan was to study law, but he became disillusioned with debating. Wendell excelled in math and changed paths, obtaining degrees in both mathematics and chemistry in 1915. Wendell stayed at the University of Kansas for two more years, where he served as an assistant instructor of chemistry. In 1917 he accepted an offer to study at the University of California, Berkeley. His advisor, George E. Gibson, mentored a generation of leaders in physical chemistry and low-temperature calorimetry, including two Nobel Prize winners. Under Gibson's direction, Latimer completed his Ph.D. in 1919.
Wendell Latimer stayed on at Berkeley as a lecturer in chemistry. Latimer and a postdoctoral researcher named W.H. Rodebush were the first to publish findings on a special bonding of a proton between two ...
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