In Memoriam: Dr. Coy Waller

Dr. Coy Waller, one of the most loved and respected members of The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy faculty, died Friday, April 24, 1998, at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford, MS.

Former director of the school's Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (RIPS), 84-year-old Waller was still an active participant in school activities. He and wife, Beverly, participated in the April 3rd dedication of the sign at the Coy Waller Laboratory Complex on the University campus.

"Dr. Waller was a beloved colleague and dear friend of so many individuals associated with the School," said Dr. Kenneth B. Roberts, School of Pharmacy Dean. "He and his wife, Beverly, were especially generous with their time and gifts on behalf of our programs. He will forever be remembered for his internationally acclaimed discovery of folic acid, a product so important as a nutrition supplement. He is equally renowned for his fundamental discoveries in chemistry, namely the 'Waller Reaction.' He never retired from the University, maintaining an office at the Waller Laboratory Complex and contributing to the scientific endeavors of his colleagues as recently as a few days before his death. We admired and loved him so much."

Waller is recognized as a driving force behind the research institute and served as its first full-time director. The institute was created by the Mississippi Legislature in 1964 and Waller was named director in 1970. During his nine-year tenure as director, Waller initiated research projects which are now the nucleus of the school's research programs.

While at RIPS, Waller and the institute scientists concentrated on studying plants as a source for pharmaceuticals and other products, at a time when chemical synthesis was the preferred method of their peers. Because of their foresight in natural products research, The University of Mississippi now houses the National Center for the Development of Natural Products (NCDNP).

Waller's early interest, training and research commitment to natural products carried over into his development of research endeavors within RIPS that focused on natural products as a means of finding new pharmaceuticals. The foundation laid by his research was critical to the School of Pharmacy's credibility as it went forward to the USDA with its proposal for the NCDNP, which opened in 1995.

In 1993, the University dedicated a newly completed laboratory complex on the southwestem comer of the Ole Miss campus in honor of Waller. The Coy Waller Laboratory Complex consists of office and research buildings, the marijuana gardens, the Maynard Quimby Medicinal Plant Garden and greenhouses.

A native of Dover, NC, Waller received a bachelor's degree in pharmacy from the University of North Carolina, a master's in microanalytical chemistry from the University of Buffalo and a doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of Minnesota. He began his career in pharmacognosy, which led to more than 50 patents in 150 different countries and numerous awards. Early in his career, while working as director of chemical research at Lederle Laboratories in New York, Waller synthesized the vitamin folic acid with a method chemists still refer to as the "Waller Reaction."

In 1968, Waller left his position as vice president of pharmaceutical research and development at Mead Johnson Chemical Company to come to The University of Misssissippi as associate director of RIPS and professor of pharmacy.

Waller stepped down from his position as director of RIPS in 1979. Since then he and wife, Beverly, have made generous contributions to the School of Pharmacy. In 1989 he established a $100,000 Pharmacy School trust in his wife's name. He also has donated more than $150,000 worth of books and journals to the pharmacy library.

Waller is survived by his wife Beverly; two daughters, Debby W. Martin of Steens, MS, and Liz W. Couch of Memphis, TN; two sons, James W. Waller of Ada, OK., and David G. Waller of Mililani, HI; four sisters, Eunice Whitfield and Katiina Nunn, both of Mt. Olive, NC, and Gaynelle Smith and Theria McPhail, both of Goldsboro, NC; one brother, Keith Waller of Mt. Ohve, NC; and six grandchildren.

The family has requested that memorials be made to the School of Pharmacy Library at The University of Mississippi.


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