by Sharon Jones Schweitzer
A stellar career as a chemist and a philanthropic nature has earned Cecil H. Hale ’38 Trinity University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. Hale will be honored, along with co-recipient David Weekley (see related profile in this edition of Alumnet), in February at a gala dinner on the Trinity campus.
A man of true chemical ingenuity, Hale began making his mark on the chemical industry in 1940 when he went to work for ESSO Laboratories, a Standard Oil research facility based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His expertise in the field was so great that his boss had his U.S. Navy commission cancelled so that Hale could continue working.
In 1950, Hale left ESSO to start Southwestern Analytical Chemicals (SAC) with his wife Margie, who was also a chemist. The company was extremely successful and at one point in time it was the only source in the world that could supply a much-needed chemical used for computer chips at the necessary level of purity. Hale invented the process that made this chemical available for commercial use. In 1983, the couple decided to sell SAC to the Mooney Chemical Company of Cleveland, Ohio, changing its name to SACHEM. Hale still takes an active role in the company by serving on the board of directors.
Hale has received a number of U.S. patents in the chemical field and has also published a number of articles in scientific journals. His contributions to the field of chemistry have been recognized with countless awards. As generous as he is inventive, Hale and his wife have established seven college scholarships, including one at Trinity. He also helped implement UT-LAMP (Learning activities for Mature People), an extremely successful program created by the Continuing Education Department at the University of Texas.
Since retirement, the Austin resident has been active on the speaking circuit talking about “critters” as he likes to call them: bats, armadillos, ants, and rattlesnakes, all of which are indigenous to Central Texas. Hales has two sons and a daughter, and nine grandchildren.