School 29

Frances Ann Walker

May 11, 1940 ~ January 30, 2022 (age 81) 81 Years Old
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Frances Walker Obituary

Frances Ann Walker was a world-renowned chemist, a wonderful mentor, well-respected 
teacher, and a role model, especially for women, many of whom followed in her professional 
footsteps. Ann, as her family, friends, students, and colleagues affectionately called her, was 
born and raised in Adena, Ohio, the oldest of five siblings. She graduated from Adena High 
School in 1958.
She attended the College of Wooster where in addition to her studies, she played clarinet in the 
College of Wooster Scot Marching Band. She received her B.A. in Chemistry there in 1962 
along with four other women classmates, who have remained in contact throughout their lives, 
and her Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from Brown University in 1966. She started her academic 
career with a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles, which was 
funded by the National Institutes of Health. Thereafter, she became Assistant Professor of 
Chemistry at Ithaca College in 1967 and three years later moved back to California to join the 
Faculty at San Francisco State University. Excelling in both research and teaching, Ann was 
rapidly promoted to Associate Professor of Chemistry in 1972 and to Professor of Chemistry & 
Biochemistry in 1976. After developing a successful research program in porphyrin and iron 
porphyrin chemistry, Ann moved to Arizona in 1990 to join the Faculty in the Department of 
Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Arizona, where her research program expanded 
to include heme protein structure and function. Ann’s prolific career at the University of Arizona 
was rewarded with promotion to Regents Professor in 2001. In 2013, Ann retired as Regents 
Professor Emerita. 
Ann’s novel findings in model heme and heme protein chemistry, which sparked a new era in 
the field of paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy, resulted in the publication of more than 170 
peer-reviewed papers, 19 chapters in books, and hundreds of published conference 
proceedings and abstracts. Ann’s remarkable work was recognized by numerous prestigious 
awards. To name a few, in 2000 she was awarded the Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal 
which recognizes female chemists for distinguished scientific accomplishment, leadership and 
service to chemistry. In 2006 she was awarded the Alfred Bader Award in Bioinorganic or 
Bioorganic Chemistry for her contributions to the field of bioinorganic chemistry. In 2020, she 
received the Eraldo Antonini Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Porphyrins and 
Phthalocyanines in recognition of her exceptional, internationally acclaimed research on heme 
proteins and metalloporphyrins. Ann’s contributions to chemistry were also celebrated by her 
election in 2011 as Fellow of the American Chemical Society in recognition of her outstanding 
achievements and contributions to science, the profession and the Society, her excellence in 
scientific leadership and her exceptional volunteer service to the scientific community. Ann was 
also elected to serve (1998-2010) as Associate Editor for the prestigious Journal of the 
American Chemical Society, the flagship journal of the American Chemical Society.
Ann was a ferocious worker with what seemed like a limitless reservoir of energy. Her research 
program, supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, 
focused on investigating the electronic structure, bonding, thermodynamics, and kinetics of 
hemes and other metallomacrocycles. Whereas Ann’s early work concentrated on the 
understanding of synthetic porphyrins and their iron complexes, she later incorporated the tools 
of recombinant DNA technology to expand her research interests to include heme proteins and 
the enzymatic reactions these molecules carry out in living organisms. Her fundamental 
discoveries in porphyrins and related iron complexes paved the way for her and others to study 
and understand how heme, an iron porphyrin complex present in many important heme 
containing proteins, enables the remarkable and central role these proteins play in living cells. 
Ann also was a caring and remarkable mentor for uncounted undergraduate, graduate and 
postdoctoral students she mentored, all of whom are pursuing rewarding professional careers 
either in academia or in industry. Her influence on female scientists and students from 
underrepresented groups was notable. Ann led and mentored by example. Her passion for 
research and education, driven by her impeccable professionalism and her strikingly intelligent, 
conscientious, and quiet manner earned her the respect and love of her students and 
colleagues alike. Everyone fortunate enough to have had Ann as mentor and friend is indebted 
to her for having enriched and furthered their own scientific careers. Ann lived her life fully and 
with the certainty that she would leave this world a better place. 
Ann married Frederick R “Fritz” Jensen, an organic chemistry professor at the University of 
California Berkeley in 1976, and they had many adventures until his death in 1987 after a long 
Ann was always very involved in her church. She was an elder at Trinity Presbyterian Church in 
Tucson, serving on the session for several terms during her 30 years there. She also was a 
very active member of the pastoral search committee when it was needed on several occasions, 
taking this role very seriously. Additionally, she served on the Presbyterian Campus Ministry 
Ann loved to travel. She often combined interesting trips with chemistry conferences and 
symposia. She did sabbaticals in England, Germany, and Argentina and made regular trips to 
Luebeck, Germany to perform Moessbauer spectra in the lab of Alfred Trautwein. She traveled 
to interesting places all around the world, including Russia, many European countries, Machu 
Picchu in Peru, China, Japan, Australia, and the high mountain Atacama observatory and desert 
in Chile. She traveled to all 8 continents (including Madagascar), often including family 
members. She took sister Janet (age 15) to Europe in 1970 for a month, cementing the travel 
bug in her too. Ann and Fritz bought land in Panajachel, Guatemala on the scenic high 
mountain Lake Atitlan and built a house there. Several family members including Bob and Janet 
visited them when they were there at Christmastime or in the summers, having many 
adventures. Ann and Fritz visited brother David in Alaska in 1976. Ann, Janet and Janet’s wife 
Kathy traveled together to Antarctica in 2014, and Ann and sister Betty took a four month cruise 
around the world in 2019. 
Ann died on Jan 30, 2022, after a long illness. Her parents were Robert W. and Marian S. 
Walker, and she is survived by siblings Elizabeth W. “Betty” Campbell, Robert A. “Bob” Walker, 
David W. Walker (wife Bobbi) and Janet M. Walker (wife Kathy), nieces Kristin and Michelle 
Campbell, Elizabeth “Beth” Todd and Mari W. Walker, nephews Scott A. Campbell, Robert A. 
Walker and Mark S. Walker, and grand-nieces Ayanna Nimrod, Abigail and Esther Todd, Lydia 
Walker and grand-nephew Luke Walker.
A memorial service will be planned March 18, 2023, at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Harrisville, from 10 to 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in her name can 
be sent to Trinity Presbyterian Church in Tucson:

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March 18, 2023

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Covenant Presbyterian Church
SR 250
Harrisville, OH 43974


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