Kenneth Rowen Heimlich, 82, of West Chester, former director of research for Merck, Sharp & Dohme, died Tuesday, March 17, of Alzheimer's disease at his home.

Born to Herman and Lula Heimlich in Rockford, Ill., Dr. Heimlich grew up in Indiana. He earned a bachelor of science degree in 1954, a master's degree in 1956, and a doctorate in 1958, all in pharmaceutical chemistry from Purdue University.

Dr. Heimlich was director of pharmaceutical research and development for Merck, Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories in West Point. The firm is now Merck & Co.

For 15 years before that, he worked at Smith, Kline & French, where he started out as a senior pharmaceutical chemist. The company is now part of GlaxoSmithKline.

His primary research interest was the application of chemical concepts to the development of pharmaceutical dosage forms.

He held two U.S. patents, one on a method of preparing a sustained-release anti-inflammatory aid, the other on a method of stabilizing coating materials for pills.

Dr. Heimlich presented papers at national and international meetings, and served in leadership roles with many professional societies, including a term as president of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

For a time, he served as pharmaceutical consultant to the French Ministry of Health. He was named a Purdue distinguished alumnus in 1984 and was given an honorary doctorate by Purdue for contributions to his field.

His family described Dr. Heimlich as a true gentleman and scholar.

"He loved unconditionally and had an amusement for all that life has to offer," his family said in a tribute. "He was sometimes your biggest challenge, and always your biggest fan."

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Betty Gunion; daughters Kenda Shaw and Julie Baldwin; a son, Douglas; and five grandchildren.

A visitation will be held starting at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at Christ Memorial Lutheran Church, 89 Line Rd., Malvern, Pa. 19355. A life celebration service is set for 2 p.m. After the service, there will be a reception. Burial was private.

Contributions can be made to Neighborhood Hospice, 400 E. Marshall St., West Chester, Pa. 19380, or to the church at the address above.

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