Watters, Leon Laizer

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WATTERS, LEON LAIZER (1877–1967), U.S. scientist, teacher, writer, and communal leader. Watters was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. After teaching chemistry at Columbia University (1898–1900) and the University of Cincinnati (1901–2), he became a food and drugs investigator for the City of New York and presented papers on that subject before the American Association for Advancement of Science. Watters developed a method for sterilizing catgut used as sutures in surgery. He founded the Watters Laboratories and Hospital Supply Company, which he later sold to the Air Reduction Company (1948). During World War i he built the first portable disinfectors for the U.S. Army and Navy. In World War ii he designed a mobile hospital unit that was used in North Africa by the British. A civic-minded scientist, Watters was a founder and president of the Utah Club of New York, head of the advisory committee of Cooper Union, and a member of the Chemists Club of New York. At the suggestion of his friend Albert Einstein, he endowed the Watters Memorial Research Laboratory for experimental research in pure physics at the California Institute of Technology and established scholarships and students' loan funds at the University of Utah. Active in Jewish life, Watters was chairman of the New York section of the Jewish Welfare Board during World War i. He served at one time as vice president of the Hebrew Technical Institute and as treasurer of the New York ymha. Watters' nontechnical writings included Pioneer Jews of Utah (1952); his papers are at the American Jewish Archives at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio.


L. Watters, in: Western Humanities Review, 2 (1948), 10–25; J. Dumond and J.P. Youtz, in: Review of Scientific Instruments, 8 (1937), 291–307; New York Times (April 19, 1967), 45; ajyb, 69 (1968), 613.

[Isidore S. Meyer]