Friday, April 16, 2021

Della M. Roy

Name of Deceased Della M. Roy
Age 94
Date of Death 03/27/2021
Date of Birth
Funeral Home Koch Funeral Home

Dr. Della M. Roy of 500 E. Marylyn Ave, State College, Pa. passed away peacefully on March 27, 2021 at the age of 94. She was born Della Marie Martin in Merrill, Oregon to Harry L. and Anna Martin and was raised in a farming community, largely formed by Czech immigrants.

After finishing high school at age 16, Della graduated from the University of Oregon in 1947 with a B.S. in chemistry, Phi Betta Kappa. 

Enrolled at the Pennsylvania State College, under Prof. E.F. Osborn, future director of U.S. Bureau of Mines, Della received an M.S. in Minerology in 1949. In the interim, she shared an office and lab with another graduate student, Rustum Roy, leading to marriage in June 1948. The couple then moved to live and work in India in 1949, returning to Penn State in 1950 where Rustum joined the faculty and Della completed a PhD (1952) in Minerology.

After graduate school, Della raised a family (3 sons: Neill, Ronnen and Jeremy) while continuing her career in science at Penn State. Along the way, she blazed a trail for women in science and engineering at almost every step.

On the path to becoming an international leader in the field of cement chemistry, her career was marked by a series of unique milestones and pioneering firsts: In 1965, the mineral, Dellaite, was named in her honor; her 1987 induction into the National Academy of Engineering, represented the first Penn State female, the third female academic, and formed the first spousal couple (along with Rustum) to be so honored; with her colleague, Kathleen Mourant, she started and edited the first scientific journal in the field of cement and concrete for many decades.

In a research and teaching career at Penn State, spanning over 50 years, she rose to the rank of Full Professor in 1975. During this time, she mentored dozens of graduate students as MS or PhD advisor, as well as post-doctoral fellows. Over the course of her career, she became renowned for her work in advanced concrete materials for pavements, chemically bonded cements, ancient cement-based building materials, synthetic porous biomaterials for hard tissue implants and prosthetics, cement materials for nuclear waste isolation, and high temperature cements for geothermal wells, among others. In “retirement,” as well as maintaining active research at Penn State, she joined Arizona State University as research professor.

Among numerous national and international awards, she was elected to the World Academy of Ceramics as its first female member, she received the Jepson Medal (1982) and Copeland award (1987) of the American Ceramic Society, and became honorary member of the Institute for Concrete Technology (1987).

In 2012 she was a co-recipient of the first annual Golden Goose Award established by the United States Congress to honor federally funded research leading to major breakthroughs in scientific, technological, medical, public health, and other fields of benefit to the public.

Throughout the years, Della also built their home at 528 S. Pugh St. into a hub for a growing extended family and friends. As part of the radical Church reforms movement and its local “house church” the Sycamore community, she and Rustum made their home a central meeting and greeting location. As the most generous hostess she made “the backyard” and the house a welcoming space for numerous gatherings of the friends and the famous (from Governors of California to the President of India, to Linus Pauling).

Della has been a beloved member of the Foxdale Village community for the past 18 years.

She is survived by son Ronnen Roy and spouse Sinaly Roy, son Jeremy Roy and spouse Lydia, granddaughter Simone, grandson Naren, nephew Larry Frazier, niece Barbara Frazier, as well as numerous sisters-in-law, nieces, and nephews.

A memorial service will be announced to take place later this year.

Contributions may be made to the Rustum and Della Roy Innovations in Materials Research Award, payable to Penn State and mailed to: Office of Donor and Member Services, The Pennsylvania State University ,2583 Gateway Drive, Suite 130, State College, PA 16801. Please make a notation of the name of the fund in the memo portion of your check: Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Award.

Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at or visit us on Facebook.