Lloyd Hillyard Conover was born on June 13, 1923, in Orange, N.J. His father, John, was a lawyer; his mother, the former Marguerite Anna Cameron, was an artist. His interest in chemistry began in childhood when he watched his father mix cement to repair a retaining wall.
“There was something about the physical change in matter that really fascinated me,” he said in an interview for this obituary.
To feed his curiosity, he devised science projects with items he found around his house. In one instance, he took his mother’s pots and pans and melted down lead left behind by a plumber to make a miniature cannon that fired lead pellets, powered by steam.
He entered Amherst College in 1941 to study chemistry, but his education was interrupted by World War II. He spent three years in the Navy, serving on an amphibious ship in the Pacific and rising to lieutenant junior grade.
After the war, he returned to Amherst, and he received his bachelor’s degree in 1947. He received his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Rochester in 1950 and went to work for Pfizer, where salaries were higher than in academia, to support his family.I was surprised to learn that tetracycline had its first-in-human trials within a year of Dr. Conover making it. That seems dramatically faster than modern times.