Malcolm Paynter obituary

Born 1938, died 2009. A graduate of Biochemistry (BSc Biochemistry 1959).

Malcolm James Benjamin (Ben) Paynter, 71, of  Clemson, South Carolina, USA, died Thursday, August 20th, 2009 at Anderson Hospital, exactly 45 years to the day that he sailed to America in 1964. Born in Holly Hall, West Midlands, he was the son of the late Horace Benjamin and Evelyn Timmington Paynter. He attended Dudley Grammar School from 1950 to 1956 and represented his school in swimming. He met his future wife, Valerie Anne Griffiths from Dudley Girls High School in a Physics class at DGS taught by Dr. Brabbon.

He attended Sheffield University where he graduated with a BSc (Hons.) degree in Biochemistry in 1959 and continued in Microbiology where he completed his Master and Doctorate degrees. He was a post-doctoral student at the University of California, Davis campus, from 1964-1966, and then accepted a position as Assistant Professor at Clemson University, Clemson, SC. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1971 and to Full Professor in 1974. In 1971 he founded the Microbiology Department at Clemson University and was the Department Head for 21 years. Besides administrative duties he taught both graduate and undergraduate students, carried out research for 40 years, and upon his retirement was honored as Professor Emeritus of Microbiology.

At its inception, the Microbiology Department consisted of a total of three Faculty members, two graduate and nine undergraduate students. Over time he built the Department into a highly competitive unit with 7 full time, 3 joint appointment and 6 Adjunct Faculty members, 50 graduate and 250 undergraduate students. He set and maintained high academic standards and produced quality students at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

He was a founder member of the SC Branch of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM), and in 1971 he was elected its President. In 1982, his peers at the University of Florida named a new methanogenic bacterium, Methanomicrobium paynteri, in his honor for his contribution to the study of methanogenic bacteria and methanogenesis. In 1986 he received the “Outstanding Microbiology Award” from the SC Branch of the ASM. He was the Editor of the North American “Letters in Applied Microbiology” from 1996 – 2005. His research included anaerobic microbiology (specifically methanogens and anaerobic cellulose degraders), and microbial ecology of anaerobic habitats. He published 75 papers in refereed journals and was awarded over $800,000 in grant money.

Surviving are his wife of 48 years, Valerie Anne Griffiths Paynter of the home, and two daughters: Joanna Marie Paynter of Costa Mesa, California, and Samantha Dawn Paynter of Atlanta, Georgia. He was a loving husband and devoted father. In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by two sons, Jason Mark and Jonathan Brett Paynter.

Written by Mrs Valerie Paynter