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Herbert Elmore Hellwege, a notable chemist, joined the faculty of Rollins College in 1954.  He continued his extensive research projects while teaching in the field of chemistry.

Hellwege was born on March 3, 1921, in Harsefeld, Germany.  After graduating from technical gymnasium in Bustehude, Germany in 1939, Hellwege joined the air force, reaching the rank of second lieutenant, until 1945.  He then studied mathematics, physics, geology, mineralogy, and majored in inorganic chemistry at the University of Hamburg.  After receiving his Ph.D. in 1953, he came to the United States of America, and within a year had found a home at Rollins College.

At Rollins College, Hellwege introduced new courses, including Radiochemistry and its Applications and Principles of Chemistry.  He also helped start soccer, acting as an assistant coach; is the charter member of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity; and participated in several issues of the Animated Magazines.  In 1965, Hellwege was awarded the National Science Foundation Faculty post-doctoral fellowship and performed research at the University of Goteborg in Sweden in the field of co-ordination chemistry.  In the same year, he became chair of the Department of Chemistry.  In 1974, he served as the Archibald Granville Bush Chair of Science.  He was awarded the Arthur Vining Davis Award in 1971.

Hellwege’s many scholarly publications include a doctoral thesis on "The Abundance of Tin as a Minor Element in Minerals" and "Development of a New Spectro-Chemical Method in the Field of Geo-Chemical Research." He spoke (speaks) German, English, and had (has) a working knowledge of French, played (plays) the violin, and learned how to sew during his retirement. Hellwege passed away on Wednesday, November 16, 2005.

So what attracted
you to Rollins?
  • "... Hugh McKean said, 'Well, we’re interested in you and would you like to come to Winter Park and look the place over?'  Well, I said, 'Yeah!' Free flight to Florida, you know, I wouldn’t say no to that (laughs)."



  • "The reason for that is I was in love with a girl, which was really my one neighbor, our neighbor’s daughter... And we came to the United States in November of nineteen hundred fifty-three and I had a job at a chemist in the food and drug research laboratory in New York City."




  • "...A lot of more class discussion rather than actual lectures in the advanced classes.  They’d better come prepared for their class or otherwise they would be nailed because they could not participate in the discussion, of course."





  • "...And he was interested in studying the influence on ingredients in cosmetics and the respiration of the skin.  Oxygen respiration of the skin...And he approached me and I... told him that if he would get a grant, and proper equipment..."





  • "So I got this postcard from Hugh McKean and it— “Herb, do you know anything about soccer?”  Okay, of course I knew everything, I had played as a boy, you know, and later on as a young man I’d played soccer."

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What made you
decide to come to
the United States?

They mentioned
your innovative
approaches to
some of your

I am very interested, tell us more about your research on cosmetics.

Hellwege Talks
About His Role in
the Rollins Soccer