Chemistry prof. dies of brain cancer
By Ann Baum, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Paul Veale, a former senior lecturer in the chemistry department, died of complications from brain cancer on Thursday, according to chemistry senior lecturer Siobhan Milde.
Veale, who taught organic chemistry, was described by Milde as “a big man with a very big heart.”
“He really cared about his students and wanted to see them succeed,” she said.
Veale was diagnosed with brain cancer in September after he spent the Summer term teaching, according to Milde. Veale went to the hospital after experiencing pain in his foot, which was originally diagnosed as a sprained ankle or another foot problem, she said. An MRI found a large tumor in his brain.
“At the end of the summer, right before Fall term, he got diagnosed,” Milde said. “Next thing I know, I’m saying goodbye, and he was off to the hospital.”
Jean Hamlin ’07 DMS ’12, who took organic chemistry with Veale, described him as an engaging and friendly professor.
“He was willing to help all the time, and he made [the material] very clear and understandable,” Hamlin said. “In his lecture, he always included interesting stories or historical anecdotes about chemists.”
In a class that is traditionally considered very challenging, Veale made the material more engaging, according to Hamlin.
“Everyone complains about organic chemistry, but he made it really clear and even fun,” she said.
Veale presented students in his class with a pack of Post-it notes at the beginning of the term, telling them to write down any questions they had and to come to his office for help, Hamlin said.
“That was just a really tangible way to show that he really meant it when he said to come in for help,” Hamlin said.
Veale, who was a devout Catholic and Republican, kept a framed picture of former President George W. Bush and the Pope facing outward on his desk, according to Milde.
“He just liked to frazzle people with it,” she said.
Milde described Veale as “very straight and narrow,” characteristics that led some students’ comments to shock him, she said. She also recalled the freshman seminar she and Veale co-taught, and “how scared the kids were when they found out we’re both Republicans.”
Veale graduated from Cathedral High School in Springfield, Mass., in 1969, Milde said.
Veale’s family has asked for donations to be made to the high school in his name, according to Milde.
Veale went on to Assumption College in Massachusetts for the first two years of his college career, then graduated from Loyola University in Louisiana, Milde said. He later worked in private industry.
Veale also spent time in the Peace Corps, teaching English in Papau, New Guinea, Milde said.
After earning his doctorate in organic chemistry from George Washington University, Veale began teaching at Wellesley College, and when a job opened at Dartmouth, he applied, Milde said.
“He ended up liking [teaching] so much, he was in it for life,” she said. “Everyone said you don’t make money as a teacher, and he said, ‘That’s not why I’m doing it.’”
Chemistry department chair David Glueck also commented on Veale’s love of teaching in an interview with The Dartmouth.
“I know for sure he really enjoyed teaching and really enjoyed his interactions with the students,” he said.
Veale is survived by his brothers Alan and Daniel, sister Regina and his stepmother.