January 28, 1999

SDSU chemistry professor, Navy captain dies at 67

Dr. Clay Sharts

Clay Sharts, 67, a respected and well-loved chemistry professor at San Diego State University, died last Thursday, Jan. 28, from complications suffered during surgery to treat cancer of the liver.
Dr. Sharts earned his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1959. He worked as a research chemist for DuPont before beginning his teaching career in 1962 at what was then San Diego State College.
Dr. Sharts was a veteran of the Korean War, where he served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Skagit. He was a member of the Naval Reserve for 40 years before retiring with the rank of captain.
While at SDSU, Dr. Sharts served on a number of university committees including ones that changed faculty promotion procedure and reinstated plus-minus grading.
"Clay was cut from a different bolt of cloth" said Chemistry Department Chairman Dale Chatfield. "We could always look to him to put the needs of his students and the department ahead of his own. He was really a remarkable man"
During the sweeping budget cuts of the early 1990s, when many departments at SDSU were being cut drastically; or in some cases, entirely, Dr. Sharts put on his cap and gown and carried a sign that said, Chemistry professor (Caltech Ph.D.) will work for food.
A photo of Dr. Sharts display was published in Time magazine.
Dr. Sharts was instrumental in the development of a perfluorocarbon blood substitute.
Dr. Sharts was a man who loved animals and greatly appreciated nature. His wife Olga said he could often be caught watching the Discovery Channel on television. Dr. Sharts was a member of the San Diego Zoological Society.
Surviving him are his wife, Olga; sons, Christopher Clay, of Lead, S.D.; daughters, Melora Hogstad of Spokane, Wash., Kimberly von Kamrath of San Diego, and Vanessa Mooney of San Diego; sister, Ruthan Andrade of Fresno, Calif.; and six grandchildren.
Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 9 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, accompanied by an honor guard and 21-gun salute.
A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Feb. 10 in Smith Recital Hall on campus. A reception will immediately follow the service in the Faculty/Staff Center.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Clay Sharts Memorial Fund, c/o the Department of Chemistry.