In Memoriam

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This page serves as a place to recognize the lives and contributions of forum members who are known to be deceased. Members will be listed by date of death.

Donald J. Haarmann "The WiZard is In" 1942-2017

Beloved for his eccentric, rambling posts and highly respected for his vast knowledge of energetic materials, The WiZ was a huge presence in the pyrotechnics community long before his seven year tenure on Sciencemadness, as evidenced by his 1996 publication of The Wizard's Pyrotechnic Formulary, among many other contributions to the public knowledge base.


"The WiZ (Donald J. Haarmann) has passed away"

Don Scully "Magpie" 1942-2019

Widely recognized as one of the most prolific contributors to the Sciencemadness forum, Magpie produced many impeccable write-ups that breathed new life into early 20th century chemistry. Many of these have been enthusiastically replicated numerous times by other forum members. Magpie demonstrated that the knowledge and experience of a professionally trained chemical engineer combined with the passion and creativity of an amateur chemist is a truly exceptional combination.


Don passed away unexpectedly at the age of 77. Don was born to Grace and Edward Scully and grew up in Lewiston, Idaho. Growing up, Don had many high school classmates who formed a local “Ramble Gang” who spent many a day and night playing basketball on the back patio and/or pool, ping-pong, and poker in the basement. Other days they could be found out hunting, fishing, hiking, or just swimming together. The only younger member of this gang was his little brother, Richard, who had to make sure to follow the orders of the upper-classmen to be allowed to tag along.

Don was always meticulous and studious in everything he did. He often won prizes for the quality of the balsa wood model airplanes he built. He also loved collecting, mounting, and cataloguing insects, especially butterflies and moths. He passed this love on to his children and a few of their friends.

Don knew what his career would be from the time he was in Jr high, joking that he knew what he wanted to be in fifth grade, just didn’t know what it was called. Graduating from Lewiston Senior High in 1961, he then went on to the University of Idaho, earning a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 1965.

His first job after graduating was in Torrance, California working for Shell Oil in their Synthetic Rubber Development Project testing various synthetic rubbers. Leaving there he moved to Cloquet, Minnesota and worked for the Potlatch Corporation in Research and Development adding technical support to their pulping and bleaching operations.

Uncle Sam came calling in 1968. He served in the U.S. Air Force at George AFB Ca. as a Sergeant, Civil Engineering Squadron. Upon discharge, there not being an opening at the Cloquet facility, he was assigned to their Brainerd Fine Paper plant. He helped develop and implement a process to reclaim 4000 lbs/day of coating formerly disposed of as waste. It is there where he met and married his wife, LaVonne in 1972. In June of 1976, they welcomed their first son Aaron.

The West, fishing, and hunting were calling him. In 1979, he moved back to Lewiston, Idaho, where their second son Ryan was born in May, working a short time at their paper mill. In January of 1980, he moved his family to Richland [Washington] and began his career at Hanford (Rockwell) working at the 200 Area Tank Farms as a process engineer. He supported many different tank farm projects and efforts to mitigate the growing waste issues as the Hanford site transitioned from defense processing to an environmental cleanup mission in the early ‘90s. Don joined the 200 Area Effluent Treatment Facility Project (C-018H), which supported the building of the 200 Area Effluent Treatment Facility. He proved instrumental to that project during both the construction/design and operating phases as the cognizant engineer for ETF’s secondary treatment train. Don was instrumental in applying his skills to the ETF as an evaporator expert supporting operations of the only atmospheric evaporation unit on the Hanford site. He often said the time at the ETF Project was the most fulfilling of his engineering career.

In 2002 Don retired from the ETF and his service at Hanford to pursue continued interests in chemistry and continued taking classes and participating in several online forums that promoted chemical engineering and chemistry worldwide.

With his love and significant interests in ancient Roman and Greek histories, one of the highlights of his career was delivering a paper in Greece on chemical drying. While there, he was able to travel and see in person all the ancient locations he had loved learning about.

While living in Minnesota he had been introduced to sailing. He, LaVonne, and friends went on many sailing adventures on Lake Superior. They also owned a couple of different sailboats that they used for day sails in local lakes. Family vacations were always centered on sailing. One memorable trip Don and LaVonne rented a sailboat and sailed among the Hawaiian Islands. They took the whole family to the Caribbean twice also renting a sailboat there. Most of their sailing was done off the west coast of Washington and up into Canada.

In retirement, he caught the fly fishing bug again, hunting smallmouth bass all over the North West. He also continued to pursue his love of chemistry, he was a perpetual student in organic chemistry at CBC [Columbia Basin College] mentoring the other students. He also rekindled a childhood passion for collecting and mounting butterflies. He traveled with other lepidopterists, such as his childhood friend Bob Carrier, a nature photographer, to complete their collections throughout Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.

He was preceded in death by an infant brother David, father Ed who died when he was three, his step-father Don, and his mother Grace.

Don is survived by his wife LaVonne and son Aaron of Richland, son Ryan and his wife Molly and their two children River and Jade who reside in Salt Lake City, Utah. His brother Richard and wife Sue of Lewiston, ID, and children Lisa, Arthur, Anne, and Laurel.

Transcribed from a local newspaper, author unknown


"Magpie has died"

Obituary on

Thomas Oldani "Melgar" 1982-2020

Melgar was a regular contributor on the Sciencemadness forum for about a decade. He had many novel ideas and enjoyed pushing the boundaries of amateur chemistry. He was also a strong proponent of harm reduction and was active in developing new tests for detecting dangerous contaminants in street drugs. Additionally, he was instrumental in tackling the extreme spam issue that the Sciencemadness forum was struggling with throughout 2019.


Thomas “Tommy” Oldani, 37, of Meriden, CT, and formerly of Sherman, passed away on Thursday, January 23, 2020.

He was born December 21, 1982 in Jamestown, NY, the son of Richard and Linda Ocepek Oldani.

Tommy was a 2000 graduate of Sherman Central School. He received his degree in engineering from RIT in 2007 after which he went on to collaborate with Roswell Park Cancer Institute in the field of robotic surgery simulation. He later moved to Manhattan cofounding a tech company for an online diamond retailer.

Tommy had a voracious appetite for knowledge. He read extensively and enjoyed sharing his passions with others. He was an excellent writer and excelled at explaining complex subjects to others. He was idealistic and believed in the ability of an individual to make a positive difference in the world

He was politically active and one of his fondest memories was meeting President Barak Obama and traveling state to state to volunteer on his historic 2008 election campaign. We feel a profound sense of loss of his passing and we will miss his passion, wit, insight and gentle spirit.

He is survived by his parents: Richard and Linda Oldani of Sherman, NY, three siblings: Steven Oldani of London, England, Gina Oldani of Tonawanda, NY and Peter Oldani of Wallingford, CT, his maternal grandparents: Theodore and Genevieve Ocepek and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.


"Melgar has died"

"Meriden police identify man found dead in Hanover Road home last week"

Obituary on