Kathryn “Kitty” Hach Darrow

Women in STEM
Women in STEM
Kathryn "Kitty" Hach Darrow

Birth: October 20, 1922

Death: June 4, 2020

Specialty: Chemistry

Major Contributions:

Co-Founder of Hach Chemical Company

First female director of American Water Works Association

American Water Works George Warren Fuller Award

Image: Wikimedia Commons

March 22nd marks the international observance of the UN’s World Water Day – which has been described as an opportunity to learn more about water related issues, be inspired to tell others, and take action to make a difference.

One business that has been at the forefront of making better water through better chemistry is the Hach Chemical Company. Started in 1947 by Kathryn and Clifford Hach, the company was a pioneer in creating easy to use standardized testing and water purification kits.  Kathryn, known as “Kitty” and Clifford met at Iowa State University while she was studying to be a home economics teacher and he a chemist.

 After selling the rights to a patent, the newly married couple bought a small piece of land in Ames, Iowa and built their chemical plant.  The company thrived under the joint leadership of Kitty and Clifford with the development of their water testing kits and powdered reagents.

Kitty, a licensed pilot, would fly them to trade shows as well as flying samples to potential customers around the country.  Their original customers were medium-sized municipalities that needed simple procedures and easy to follow instructions for their water testing.   The biggest drive in their new-style marketing was direct to the consumer mailings that would include color photos and sometimes a product sample.

In 1982 the Hach Scientific Foundation was created to support chemistry in the classroom, awarding both scholarships to future chemistry teachers as well as grants to current high school chemistry teachers.  In 2009 the American Chemical Society began handling the administration of these funds. Kitty, who served as the President, COO and CEO of Hach Chemical was also the first female director of the American Water Works Association, a non-profit group working to improve water quality around the world.  She has stated that “the water we have on this planet is all that we have.  It needs to be cared for.”

Passing away at the age of 97 in 2020 she left behind an amazing legacy of improvements in the water analysis field, a deep continuing commitment to supporting chemical education, and a loving family. In her obituary it was shared that “Kitty is certain heaven exists and that an airplane is awaiting her.”

Written by Angela Goad


Women in Chemistry: Kitty Hach-Darrow (YouTube)

Women in Chemistry: Kitty Hach-Darrow

Wikipedia: Kathryn Hach-Darrow

Hach Co-Founder Kitty Hach-Darrow Dies at 97, Leaving Rich Legacy

OBITUARY Kathryn “Kitty” Hach

See Also:

Facebook: Hach Company

ACS-Hach Programs

Chemical Heritage Foundation: Kathryn Hach-Darrow

World Water Day