John Hawthorn was born in Glasgow on 30 March 1921, and died, while on holiday at Portpatrick, on 21 July 1993. He was educated at Shawlands Academy and at Glasgow High School , then worked for two years as an apprentice engineer with J & J Weir Ltd, Cathcart. In 1939 he enrolled at the Royal Technical College, Glasgow, and at the University of Glasgow for their joint degree in Engineering. However, he showed such an aptitude for chemistry, which was a subsidiary part of the course, that he accepted the advice of his lecturer, the late Emeritus Professor John MacLean, and transferred to Chemistry, graduating with First Class Honours in 1943.
He was recommended for commissioned training by a War Office Selection Board, but he was rejected on medical grounds and redirected to industry. John worked as an assistant chemist at the Trent Yeast Extract Co, Burton-on-Trent, then as assistant chemist, later chief chemist, at Batchelors Peas Ltd, Sheffield. He returned to Glasgow in 1948 as chief chemist at R D Waddell Ltd (meat processors). During these formative years he learned to adapt his engineering skills to the problems of food processing technology and, like many other contemporary chemists in the food industry, he became a self-taught food scientist.
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