Two-time Nobelist returns home for honor

EO file photo Nobel Prize-winning scientist Linus Pauling speaks to about 200 people during a dedication ceremony at Condon State Airport-Pauling Field in Condon, Ore., on Oct. 15, 1988. The airport was renamed to honor Pauling, a former resident.

Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel Prize-winning chemist, returned to his roots in October 1988 when his hometown of Condon, Ore., named the town’s airport after their most famous native son.

The legendary scientist, whose discoveries about the nature of chemical bonds brought him international fame, was humbled by Condon’s honor.

At dedication ceremonies for the Condon State Airport-Pauling Field on Oct. 15, 1988, Pauling gave credit to the teachers who fostered his love of learning. “I may very well owe a lot of my understanding of the nature of the world to the introduction I received in Condon,” Pauling said.

Dedication organizers, including Oregon Waste Systems, chose Pauling for the honor because he “personifies the strong will the Condon community has, the desire to improve itself and its emphasis on educational goals.” OWS was lured to Gilliam County after the Condon airport spent a million dollars to accommodate larger, corporate aircraft.

Pauling was accompanied to the dedication by his daughter Linda Kamb and two sisters who lived in western Oregon. The Gilliam County Historical Society presented the 87-year-old scientist with a brick embedded with a red cross and a nickel, which was originally part of the walkway in front of his father Herman Pauling’s Red Cross Drug Store. Pauling remembered the nickel especially, because “he could never get it out.” In return, Pauling presented the historical society with a cut glass bowl saved from the store by his sister during a 1908 fire.

The Pauling family lived in Condon until 1909, when they relocated to Portland. Pauling attended the Oregon Agricultural College in Corvallis in 1922 and later the California Institute of Technology, where he received his Ph.D. His book “The Nature of the Chemical Bond,” published in 1932, and his work on the nature of matter won him his first Nobel Prize, in chemistry, in 1954. He won his second, a Nobel Peace Prize, in 1962 for his efforts in trying to effect a ban on nuclear testing.

Pauling in his later years also became known for espousing megadoses of Vitamin C to prevent the common cold and flu, publishing “How to Live Longer and Feel Better” in 1987.

He died Aug. 19, 1994, at the age of 93, at his home in Big Sur, California. His ashes, along with those of his wife Ava, were interred at Oswego Pioneer Cemetery in Lake Oswego, Ore.

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