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Assistant Professor or untenured Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University

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Dr. John Edwin Lind, Jr. passed away at home October 15, 2020 in San Francisco, California at age 85.

A former Professor of the Chemical Engineering Department at Stanford University.
From left to right in the photo is: Prof. Boudart Prof. Mason Prof. Lind [holding a flute or oboe] Prof. Wilde Prof. Madix Prof. Homsy Prof. Robertson, and Prof. Acrivos

John Edwin Lind, Jr. passed away at home on October 15, 2020, in San Francisco, California at age 85. An only child, he was born February 26, 1935, in Louisville, Kentucky. Although he spent time in the New York area as a youngster, he and his family returned to Louisville where he finished high school. His father, John Edwin Lind, a mechanical engineer, and his mother, Minnie M. Young, both predeceased him.

Music was always an important part of his life. John took up the violin at age twelve and later learned to play the recorder and the transverse baroque flute. He played violin in the symphony at Cornell, where he earned a BA in chemical engineering. Later in life, he was known as “Disco” John Lind.

John was awarded a graduate fellowship to study Chemistry at Yale, where he earned his Ph.D. After his Yale postdoc, John returned to Cornell as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. He joined the Stanford Chemical Engineering Department around 1965.

After teaching at Stanford for more than a decade and having published more than twenty scientific papers, John was frustrated by US politics and decided to leave academia for social justice work. He had been the co-chair of Christians for Socialism in the Bay Area.

He began the 35-year second phase of his professional life in San Francisco in 1979, joining the non-profit Northern California Interfaith Committee on Corporate Responsibility (CANICCOR), primarily funded by US churches. John followed the flow of investment capital from US banks to conflict zones across the globe so that CANICCOR could pressure them to divest. In the 1990s John’s focus shifted to advocating for domestic banking institutions to lend to qualified minority and low-income borrowers. John developed expertise in banking and focused on South Africa. As CANICCOR’s Executive Director, he testified before the House of Representatives Banking Committee on the rescheduling of South Africa's debt and on legislation to prevent US bank lending to South Africa. He continued running CANICCOR until his retirement at age 79. Since CANICCOR could not afford to pay its director much, John used the skills he learned in Chemical Engineering labs to make ends meet by doing plumbing and electrical work, which he also did as a volunteer for the Black Panther Party.

In the late 1980s, John got rid of his car, which meant giving up day hikes. He turned to club dancing at discotheques for exercise and fun. He kept going out while the San Francisco club scene transformed around him; from disco and 80s clubs to the rave scene, John always found a way to enjoy himself up until COVID-19 closed the clubs, including his favorite, Soma’s Cat Club, as well as the Stud and Underground SF.  He realized that he was often a curious sight for other dancers: “I dance in a walker … obviously this is a little bizarre.” With his signature black Levi cutoffs, suspenders, and black compression stockings, “Disco” John is one of the dance floor denizens that make the San Francisco club scene iconic. He helped start a now well-established Tuesday evening social club at an Argentine craft beer bar, Woods Cerveceria de MateVeza. John was also a well-loved regular at Liquid Gold (a craft beer bottle shop and taproom), and at Café International and the former Café Flore.

John is survived by many, many friends and acquaintances, mainly much younger than he, to whom he has been an amazing inspiration.

A-Zoom memorial service is pending.

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