Due to my occupation, I review the obituaries. Occasionally, you come across the extraordinary life
Peter Dennis Burland
Peter Dennis Burland of Fulshear, Texas, left this life on August 20, 2021. He was born on July 13, 1924 in Andalusia, Alabama, to Greek immigrant parents, Chrysse Angelides and Dennis Peter Burland. His father was in the restaurant business in Andalusia, Orlando, and Shreveport. The family moved to Shreveport, Louisiana when Peter was nine.
At 17, Peter entered Louisiana State University on a scholarship where he majored in chemical engineering. He joined the Cadet Corp’s Infantry regiment and was a member of the precision drill team, the Pershing Rifles. During his freshman year, WWII broke out and he volunteered for the armed services at the end of his first semester as a sophomore.
Two weeks after his induction into the U.S. Army, Peter was drafted into the Military Intelligence Service and sent to the Special Forces Training Center at Fort Richie, Maryland. He was assigned to the 5th Greek guerrilla warfare class where, after 8 months of survival training, Peter and 120 fellow graduates were sent to the Greek Battalion (122nd Infantry) that was already fighting in the mountains of southern Yugoslavia and northern Greece. At the last minute, these men were reassigned to Eisenhower’s ETO Advanced Command London where they flew reconnaissance missions at ground level over the Normandie invasion beaches. Intelligence information spotted from these photographic missions were plotted on General Eisenhower’s war maps twice weekly and used to brief battalion and regimental commanders of the combat units chosen to make the first assault on Omaha and Utah beaches.
Seven weeks before D-Day, Peter was assigned to a 12-man military team and attached to the 2nd Armored Division. His unit dropped anchor late afternoon on D-Day waiting their turn to land. On D+1, the first elements of the 2nd began the first armored assault on Omaha Beach, the initial American tank units attempting to land on D-Day having been destroyed. The 2nd Armored fought its way through every major battle from Normandie to Berlin where they were chosen to be President Harry Truman’s honor guard at the Potsdam Conference. During WWII, Peter achieved the rank of M/Sgt and earned the ETO combat ribbon with five battle stars. His unit was also awarded the Belgium Croix de Guerre for the liberation of Belgium and for valor against the main German spearhead during the Battle of the Bulge.
In January 1946, Peter returned to LSU and majored in chemistry. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1949 and master’s degree in Chemistry and Mathematics in 1951. During his tenure at LSU, Peter was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity; was elected Vice President of the College of Chemistry and Physics; served on the student Senate; and was elected to the Alpha Chi Sigma and Phi Lambda Upsilon honorary chemistry fraternities. Under a chemical engineering fellowship, Peter assisted in the development of one of the first biological oxidation processes for the treatment of industrial wastewater using micro-organisms specifically grown for Kraft Mill waste. After graduation, Peter was employed as a research chemist by Monsanto Chemical in 1951 where in his tenure of 15 years with the company, he developed processes for the manufacture of: amino acids now contained in many dietary supplements; the synthesis of chemical intermediates used in the aspertame synthetic sweetener; bromine based bacteriocides; and a class of water-soluble compounds known as “telomers” that revolutionized the industrial water treatment industry. Several patents authored and co-authored by Peter were issued covering this work.
For over 25 years Peter managed his own company, Telomer Corporation, which manufactures and distributes many of the telomers developed at Monsanto in cooling towers; boilers; oil production chemicals and drilling fluids; water-based paints; detergents; soil conditioners; and anti-freeze coolants. Telomers play an integral role in the making of fresh water from sea water, in the water-bearing formations within reverse osmosis units, and in sea water evaporators.
During his over 50-years of residency in Houston and environs, Peter served 11 years on the Houston Chamber of Commerce research committee that planned and executed a water conservation plan designed to secure a 75-year supply of industrial surface water for the South Texas areas’ future industrial growth. He is to the present time a member of the American Chemical Society, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Legion, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Peter served four terms as President and Chairman of the Board of the 2nd Armored Division Association. Peter was also a strong supporter of the National WWII Museum, from the day of its grand opening in New Orleans.