Clarke Edson Hermance, long-term Shelburne resident, avid clarinet player, explosions researcher, and wonderful father and husband, passed away after a short bout with cancer on Sept. 18, 2016.
Clarke was born on Oct. 6, 1936 to Harry Putnam Hermance and Dorothy Wilhelmina Clarke in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, of an American father and a Canadian mother. He held dual citizenship until he chose to be American, at 21 years old.
Growing up in Ogdensburg, N.J., he was active in Boy Scouts and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, and started to learn to play the clarinet. He graduated from Franklin (N.J.) High School in 1954, and attended Yale University where he studied Mechanical Engineering. He went on to graduate school at Princeton University where he researched solid rocket propellant ignition and combustion. His doctoral thesis described the process of composite solid propellants suddenly exposed to high temperature and pressure gasses. It involved numerical computer solutions of the simultaneous evolution of decomposition of solids to gaseous fuel components, and the reactions the oxidizer contained in the hot gasses had in contact with the propellant surface.
While at Princeton he met a Swedish girl, Harriette Ingeborg Linnéa Ottoson, on a blind date. They married in 1963, and had three children: Harry Putnam Hermance III in 1964; Linnéa Maria in 1967; and Sofia Helena in 1970.
After the birth of Harry, they spent a year in Sweden where Clarke learned a lot of Swedish and did research on solid propellant combustion modeling at the National Aeronautical Research Institute. This was followed by a move to Canada and the University of Waterloo, where he joined the Mechanical Engineering Department. In 1982, Clarke applied for and obtained Professorship and Chair of Mechanical and Civil Engineering at the University of Vermont. The family moved to Shelburne, Vt., where he since resided.
Clarke continued research involving composite solid propellants, and also on the elimination of diesel combustion particulates by filtration of the exhaust. He also continued with research into the pyrolysis of organic waste materials and their elimination by combustion, and of the necessary distribution of particle sizes to obtain the highest density of particles in pyrotechnic – think fireworks – compositions.
Clarke retired from the University of Vermont in 2000, and immersed himself in playing clarinet in local Vermont bands and amateur orchestra, and playing preludes and other music at the Shelburne United Methodist church. He took wonderful care of his wife during her last years, and maintained an active interest in ornithology.
He is survived and missed by his two daughters and granddaughter, his brother and his brother’s family. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to the Harry Hermance Scholarship Fund at the Vermont Youth Orchestra at 223 Ethan Allen Ave., Colchester, Vt., 05446.