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BLESSING – Robert H. Ph.D
Of Tonawanda Twp., NY October 30, 2023
Beloved husband of Barbara Ann Katacinski Blessing; Devoted father of Kimberly Ann (Tim Bohen) Blessing and the late Kirsten Brenda Blessing-Hanagan; Grandfather of twins Jack Griffith and Harry James and the late Liam Hanagan; brother of the late Peter Blessing; also survived by nieces and nephews.
Friends may call at D. LAWRENCE GINNANE FUNERAL HOME 3215 Delaware Ave. Kenmore Thursday (November 9th) 4:00 - 7:00 PM. All are invited to a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Joseph’s University RC Church 3269 Main St. Buffalo Friday at 12:00 PM. Please meet at church. Interment Mt. Olivet Cemetery.
Full obituary and condolences at www.GinnaneFuneralHome.com
Dr. Robert H. Blessing, 82, Professor at the University of Buffalo and Emeritus Senior Research Scientist at Hauptman Woodward Institute
Robert (Bob) Harry Blessing was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1941 to Harry and Alma Blessing. Blessing graduated from King’s College in 1962, the same year he married Barbara Ann Katacinski, also from Wilkes-Barre. In 1970, he received a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Ohio University, and in the following four years, he earned post-doctoral positions at the University of Lund, Sweden; the University of Pittsburgh; and two at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
After working for four years as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania, Blessing and his family moved to Buffalo in 1978, where he worked as a Research Scientist at Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, Inc (HWI), formerly the Medical Foundation of Buffalo. At HWI, he worked with Dr. G. David Smith, Emeritus HWI Researcher, publishing papers on the crystal structure of human insulin. Blessing also developed algorithms and software for crystallographic data reduction and error analysis that are widely used in laboratories worldwide. He was President of the Pittsburgh Diffraction Society and an active member of the American Crystallographic Association.
In 1991, Blessing was appointed as an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Buffalo (UB) while continuing his duties at HWI. In 2001, Blessing helped design the graduate studies program for the Department of Structural Biology within the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. The same year, he was promoted to Professor within the Department and later served as the Director of Graduate Studies and Chair. A former graduate student described him as “a great man, with a great sense of humanity and kindness… not only a friend but a spiritual father to me.”
Blessing presented work at national and international conferences. During four different periods, he was a visiting professor in Nancy, France, at the Université de Lorraine. He coauthored many publications, including with Herbert Hauptman, the 1985 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry. Claude Lecomte, Professor of Crystallography and Physics at the Université de Lorraine, who co-authored ten publications with Blessing, said he “was one of the international leaders” in the field of high-resolution experimental crystallography for electron density modeling. Colleague Jane Griffin, Principal Research Scientist at HWI, described him as “a trusted friend and colleague; always a kind and loving presence… An outstanding scientist, teacher, scholar, Father, friend, colleague… Never dull, full of wit, and never mean-spirited.”
Dr. Blessing was one of the original members of Buffalo’s James Joyce Reading Circle, 2009 to 2019, which he happily attended with his daughter Kimberly and son-in-law Timothy Bohen. He was a Francophile, saying, “The French just live closer to life,” who also had a deep love and appreciation for all things Irish, especially its poetry and song. Friends and colleagues who were Friday afternoon regulars at the former Ulrich’s Tavern fondly remember this early fan of The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners for his “singing prowess.” He was affectionally regarded as the life of every and any party he happily attended.
A devout Catholic and member with his wife of St. Joseph’s University Parish, Blessing loved classical music, especially Beethoven and Bach. Described by friends as a “gentleman and a scholar,” his favorite poets were W.B. Yeats, John Montague, and Seamus Heaney.
He is survived by his loving and devoted wife and caretaker, Barbara Ann. Bob was known for being fiercely proud of his daughters Kimberly Blessing, Professor of Philosophy at Buffalo State College, and deceased eldest daughter Kirsten Blessing-Hanagan, a neo-natal nurse at the former Children’s Hospital of Buffalo who, with much-loved Brennan Hanagan, gave him beloved twin grandsons Jack and Harry Hanagan, and deceased Liam Blessing Hanagan.