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Herbert Thomas Pratt

January 19, 1926 – January 23, 2014

Herbert T. Pratt, 88, of Newark, DE, died peacefully on Jan. 23, 2014, after a brief illness.

A native of Eden, North Carolina, he graduated from Tri-State College of Engineering. After a brief career with Fieldcrest in Eden, in 1952 he moved with his young family to New Castle, Delaware, where he took a position with the textile fibers department of the DuPont Company. He enjoyed his career for its variety of projects in man-made fibers, textile research, technical service, and forensic science. He was the recipient of many awards and honors, including the Olney Medal and the Harold C. Chapin Award, both from the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC), and three major awards from the American Society of Testing and Materials for his pioneering work in terminology management. He was a 60-year member of the American Chemical Society. He had published over 200 papers on textiles and the history of chemistry.

He retired from Dupont in 1985 and immediately enrolled in a history program at Goddard College, receiving his MA degree in 1987. An avid collector of antiquarian books, his collection of 4000 volumes is now with the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He founded CHF’s Bolton Society, an organization for antiquarian chemistry book collectors.

His life-long love of history led to involvement with the Archeological Society of Delaware, the Torch Club of Delaware, the Historical Society of Delaware, the New Castle Historical Society, Delaware Bibliophiles, the Society for the History of Chemistry, and Friends of Bellanca Aircraft. He was also an archivist for the New Castle Presbyterian Church. He received an Award for Outstanding Service from the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation for his design and oversight of the restoration of the historic Mount Pleasant Meeting House and Parsonage at Bellevue State Park near Wilmington. He was a member of the New Castle Presbyterian Church.

He was never afraid of an idea. With his cup of hot water in hand, he loved nothing more than stimulating conversation with people holding different points of view. His wealth of knowledge in science, religion, history, and technology kept him intellectually engaged throughout his life.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a daughter, Ann Girvin, who passed away in 2012. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Mary; sons, Warren Pratt and his partner Susan Swan, and Michael Pratt; daughter, Alison and her husband Steve Hetzel; 4 grandchildren, Taeyana Kamir, Evan Queitsch (Tammy), Matthew Queitsch (Betsy Fisher) and Reid Hetzel; and 4 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to the New Castle Presbyterian Church, 25 East Second Street, New Castle, DE 19720 or to the charity of your choice.

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  1. Joy Scott, January 25, 2014

    Mary, Warren and Herb’s entire family. I am so sorry for your loss. Although I have only known you a short while, I knew Herb to be a kind, gentle soul and our community will miss him. You have my deepest sympathy.

  2. Richard Farmer, January 26, 2014

    To the Pratt family we offer our prayers and sympathy. Herb was an outstanding individual who will be sorely missed. We are so sorry for your loss, and wish we could attend his funeral to pay our respects.

    Dottie and Rich Farmer

  3. Mary Virginia Orna, January 26, 2014

    My homage to the quintessential scholar and gentleman whose eclectic interests in virtually every field of human endeavor was eloquent testimony to the liberal art of chemistry, of which he was a lifelong practitioner. Not to be outdone in affability, kindness, gentleness, he was one of the most magnificent human beings I have ever met. Herb, you will be sorely missed by your many admirers.

  4. Charles and Izetta Shain, January 26, 2014

    Sorry for your loss.

  5. Mike and Julia Diebold, January 26, 2014

    Our thoughts are with the Pratt family.

  6. Barbara Taylor DiMondi, January 27, 2014

    My Mom told me about his passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Mr. Pratt was a kind and gentle man.

    • Alison Pratt, February 9, 2014

      Babs, how sweet of you to write. Thanks for posting. Wishing you and your family well.

  7. Claire Campion, January 29, 2014

    Bellevue State Park has lost a great treasure. Our thoughts are with you.

  8. Martha Stacy Carper, January 31, 2014

    I am so sorry to hear about the passing of my dear friend and colleague, Herb Pratt. I will always be grateful for his energy, his ideas, and his wonderful smile! He was a brilliant man. My thoughts are with his dear wife, Mary, and the entire Pratt Family.

  9. Jeffrey Seeman, February 24, 2014

    I shall miss Herb. He was a very special person. My condolences to his family who were fortunate to have him for so many years.


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