David Frederick Ollis, age 82, passed peacefully in his sleep at home on October 6, 2023,
following a battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Marcia Baker Ollis; his
brother, Harvey (Chris); his five children, Andrew (Wendy), Mark (Stephanie), Stephen (Jess),
Matthew (Maria), and Julianna (Dylan); and his six grandchildren, Lauren, Collin, Carter, Acacia,
Johnny, and Sam. David was born in San Francisco on September 28, 1941, to Leslie and
After graduating from the California Institute of Technology (B.S.), Northwestern University
(M.S.) and Stanford University (Ph.D), David enjoyed a long and distinguished academic career
spanning more than fifty years. He was a professor of chemical engineering at Princeton
University from 1969 to 1980, for four years at the University of California, Davis. He then
enjoyed thirty-five years as a Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular
Engineering at North Carolina State University.
In the 1970s and 1980s, David co-authored two editions of Biochemical Engineering
Fundamentals, which became one of the foundations for modern biochemistry. He later wrote
two other books, translated another, and authored numerous journal articles. Although he
received many awards for his research, he placed exceptional value on the importance of
teaching and mentoring students. For this he was recognized by the National Science
In retirement, he loved to garden and developed a strong interest in painting. He also wrote
poems when the mood struck. Like his father, he enjoyed puzzles and games of all types. He
was a formidable poker player in his youth, and enjoyed family bridge games throughout the
years. He and his wife, Marcia, loved to travel, particularly in Europe, and enjoyed several
sabbaticals with their family in France.
He was an active member of his Chapel Hill community all the way through retirement. He
contributed his engineering expertise to local water quality issues, and served on the board of
the local homeowner’s association.
He will be remembered as a kind and patient father and loving husband. To his last day, his
mind never faltered.
The funeral will be held Saturday, November 25, at 12:00 noon at the UNC Newman Center,
218 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill, NC, 27516. Contributions can be made to the Southern
Poverty Law Center and to the Audubon Society.