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Alfred Bader was born in Vienna, Austria in 1924. After Kristallnacht he was included in the first Kindertransport from Vienna to Britain in December 1938. In 1940 he was interned in a British detention centre until being transferred to another centre on Quebec’s Ile aux Noix later that year; while there he studied for McGill University’s matriculation exams, passing them in 1941. After World War II he studied chemistry and engineering at Queen’s University, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in 1945. Emigrating to the United States, he pursued graduate studies at Harvard, earning an M.Sc. in organic chemistry in 1948 and then a Ph.D. in 1949. During a sea voyage to Liverpool that year he met Isabel Overton.
After his studies Bader began work as a research chemist with PPG Co. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from 1950–1954, and then became chief chemist for Aldrich Chemicals Company (1954–55), and subsequently its president (1955–81) and chairman (1981–91). He served as president of Sigma-Aldritch Corporation (1975–80) and its chairman (1980–91), then as chairman emeritus (1991–92). Alfred Bader became a nauralized citizen of the United States in 1964. He has received honourary degrees from several universities in the United States, Canada and England.
Isabel Louise Overton was born in northern Ontario and graduated from Victoria University in 1949 (DLittS Vic ’95). After touring England in the summer of 1949 she accepted a teaching post at St. Francis School, Bexhill-on-Sea in Sussex, where she taught drama, French and Spanish and established a costume museum. She remained there until her marriage to Alfred Bader in 1982. In 2000 the Isabel Bader Theatre was completed at Victoria University.