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James's Story

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Jim was born July 1, 1948 to Ruth E. (Young) and Dr. Joseph M. Dechter in McKeesport, Pa. He was the youngest of three children. Jim spent his entire professional career in academia and research, using his favorite tool, the nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer. He graduated from the Shadyside Academy in Pittsburgh in 1966 and then completed his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University in 1970. Jim chose to continue his studies in Chemistry at UCLA and earned his Ph.D. in 1975. He then completed post-doctoral studies at Michigan State University and at Florida State University before joining the faculty at the University of Alabama in 1979. In 1986 he joined ARCO and then moved to the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla. in 1994 where he remained until his retirement as a professor of chemistry in 2016.
Jim became interested in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy when an undergraduate at CMU as a result of his brother's graduate physics research studies using nuclear magnetic resonance techniques in solid state physics. Over the years he and his brother Sam had a common ground for many spirited discussions. Jim and his sister Nancy were both life-long Pittsburgh Pirates fans and followed the team via cable TV, often connecting on the telephone to discuss the progress and outcome of the games. He enjoyed his associates at the university and leaves many good friends behind.
Jim is survived by his brother Sam and wife Kathy in Richland, Wash., his sister Nancy in Encinitas, Calif., his beloved Aunt Irene in East McKeesport, Pa. and several cousins and their families in the Pittsburgh area and in Florida. Jim will be buried in Pennsylvania beside his parents.
A celebration of Jim's life was held on Friday, March 2, 2018 at the Y-Chapel on the UCO Campus.
A memorial scholarship fund for chemistry majors will be established in Jim's memory. Contributions to this fund may be made to the University of Central Oklahoma Foundation.
Published on March 1, 2018
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