John Knifton


John Knifton, 81, longtime Austin resident and catalyst chemist with Texaco Chemical Co. died peacefully, in the presence of his family, on June 18, 2021


Born and raised in England, John received his bachelor's degree from the University of London in 1962, where he also earned his doctorate in 1965, under the direction of J. D. Donaldson.


After a two year post-doctoral position at the University of Texas, under the direction of Professor G. W. Watt, John joined Texaco and Texaco Chemical Co. where he specialized in the area of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis and new petro- chemical processing. He authored or co-authored more than 225 U.S. patents. In 1992, when at the Texaco Research Labs In Austin, Tx., John was named the company's first Texaco Honorary Fellow. In 1996, John joined Shell Global Solutions in Houston as a full-time consultant. He retired in 2003.


He is also the author or co-author of more than 100 peer-reviewed technical publications relating to his work at Texaco and Shell. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (London), and received the Paul N. Rylander award from the Organic Reactions Catalysis Society in 1998. He had been an ACS member since 1966.


From 1970 to -78, after gaining U.S. citizenship, John was a member of various USA Track and Field teams competing throughout Europe and the Americas; he won 15 individual USA national championships ranging in distance from 5000m (track) to 50 km, and secured a bronze medal at the Pan American Games in 1971, in the 50 kilometer race walk. He remained dedicated to a healthy lifestyle of running and race walking and won numerous masters' national, regional and Texas state championships.


In retirement, John loved to travel all over the world and boasted that he had visited 120 countries and all seven continents, occasionally accompanied by his children and grandchildren.


He is survived by his wife, Cindra Jenkins, a brother, Paul, a son, Matthew, a daughter, Nicole Gabrielle, and two granddaughters Kate and Sophie, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.


A memorial service will be held for John on Friday, July 30th at 2PM at Hope Presbyterian Church at 11512 Olson Dr in Austin, and will be followed by a reception. All who knew John are welcome.

Austin American Statesman, United States
July 2021