David E. Metzler

August 12, 1924September 26, 2013
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David E. Metzler, 89, of Ames, passed away peacefully Thursday, September 26, 2013 at Green Hills Retirement Community in Ames, Iowa. David was born in Palo Alto, California on August 12, 1924 to David Russell and Sadie Metzler. The family moved to Fresno, CA when he was a year old where he spent the rest of his youth. David remembered many happy times in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with his family which were the beginning of his lifelong love of nature and camping. After graduating from Fresno High School he pursued a degree in Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. His studies were interrupted by mandatory Civilian Public Service because he was a conscientious objector during World War II. During this time he fought forest fires in Nevada and later worked as an analytical chemist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bowie, Maryland. After his service he completed his Bachelor of Science Degree at Cal Tech.

David left his beloved mountains to study at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he earned his doctorate degree in Biochemistry under Esmond Snell in 1952. During his time in Wisconsin, David returned to California to marry Elizabeth Heron in 1948 and they later divorced. After a year as a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Texas he joined the faculty at Iowa State University in 1953. For six months in 1965 David was an exchange visitor of the National Academy of Sciences, USA to the Institute of Molecular Biology of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Moscow. This would be the beginning of his international research collaborations that would extend to scientists in Japan and other countries. His major research efforts were directed toward the mechanisms by which enzymes and coenzymes participate in catalysis in the body, specifically those reactions that depend upon thiamine, riboflavin and vitamin B6. His wife, Carol, worked in his laboratory for 28 years and between the two of them preformed and supervised many research projects. David authored or co-authored over 120 research papers and review articles and over 50 abstracts. He was the translation editor or editor for several other books within his field. He was the recipient of a John Guggenheim Fellowship Award in 1971 -72 during which he started work on the first edition of his textbook. In 1977, he published “Biochemistry: The Chemical Reactions of Living Cells,” which was translated into Japanese, Russian and Spanish. David married Carol Harris in 1978 after having worked together for many years. David wrote the second edition of his textbook in association with Carol that included two volumes and was published in 2003. It surpassed the first edition and become the reference book for biochemists.

David’s contribution to the field of biochemistry was unquestionable being recognized both nationally and internationally presenting his research at numerous conferences. He was a 50-Year member of the American Chemical Society. He was awarded the Distinguished Professorship in Sciences and Humanities in 1986 by Iowa State. David was honored on his 65th birthday by his former students and colleagues with a special scientific symposium in Ames in September 1989. He was also an educator, serving as the major advisor to nearly sixty MS and Ph. D students as well as numerous post-doctoral fellows. He believed in introducing students to research as soon as possible so there were always undergraduate students working in his laboratory.

Even though David was dedicated to biochemistry he also made time for his family. David and Carol had date nights (when they tried not to talk biochemistry or children) and many activities which included the children or the children’s school and sport events. He tended a dozen flower gardens as well as a sizeable vegetable garden. David led his family on many camping and hiking adventures all across the country but the best were those back to his California mountains. He enjoyed singing and was a member of the Ames Choral Society for many years. Dancing was very important to David: folk and ballroom dancing with his wife, Carol. He found time for political activism for equality and peace, working for candidates who shared his beliefs. He supported organizations that worked to improve the lives of children worldwide and to preserve the environment for future generations. David had a big heart that included everyone.

David is survived by his wife, Carol and their children, Shanda Metzler of Ames, Tony (Sandra) Harris of Munich, Germany and Cindy Harris (James Yeatts) of Ankeny. He is survived by his sons Thomas (Barbara) Metzler of Glendale, California, Mark (Irina) Metzler of Stockton, California, Michael (Jacque) Metzler of St. Louis and Daniel (Melissa) Metzler of Tacoma, Washington; eleven grandchildren: Leah, Julia, Sophia, and Isaac Metzler; Elizabeth, Julia and Henry Harris; Hunter and Mason Yeatts; and Jaleesia and KiYana Carter. David is also survived by his sister, Margaret Hudson of Fresno, California, two nieces and three nephews and their families. David is preceded in death by his daughter Susan Metzler, grandson Tyler Everett Metzler and his sister, Elizabeth Boehn.

A memorial service will be held at Stevens Memorial Chapel, 607 28th Street in Ames at 2 pm on Saturday, October 5 with an hour of visitation prior and a time of socializing following. As a show of sympathy the family suggests memorial contributions be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association or the Iowa Wildlife Federation. On-line condolences may be expressed at


  • Visitation Saturday, October 5, 2013
  • Memorial Service Saturday, October 5, 2013

David E. Metzler

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Hiroshi and Yumiko Ueno

October 14, 2013

Dear Carol,
Yumiko and I learned of Dave etzler's passing from Dave Scott. I got in touch with Retsu Miura, Victor and Betty, and Chi-Neng informing this sad news.

In the 70s, we all worked hard on the 3rd floor of Gilman Hall both days and nights doing experiments. We also had intense discussions with Prof. Metzler on the experimental results. We share good memories and Dave's memory is held deep within our hearts.

We wish we could be with you and attend the memorial service. Even though we are miles apart, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

With love and sympathy,
Hiroshi and Yumiko Ueno

October 9, 2013

Dear Carol, Shanda, Cindy, Tony and family, Please accept our condolences. We are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Looking back, I have many fond memories of David. I vividly remember David and you recruiting me to join the folk dancing group while I was a graduate student in the department and worked across the hall from your labs. I even brought my daughter Janine to one of those evenings of folk dancing. David was most helpful while I was a student, and introduced me to your card puncher to enter data for the kinetic mechanisms for phosphorylase kinase I was working on. We will be thinking of you, Ali & Louisa.

Stephen Willson

October 5, 2013

Dear Carol and family, I am so sorry about your loss. Although it has been a while since I have seen Dave, I remember with fondness all the folk-dancing with you, Dave, our children, and Shanda. Lots of energy, warmth, and good nature. We're thinking of you. Stephen and Lee Anne Willson

October 5, 2013


Terri Coleman

October 4, 2013

Dear Carol, Tony, Cindy and Shonda, please accept our deepest sympathy and know that John and I will keep you all in our prayers.
John & Terri Coleman

Tom Russell

October 4, 2013

Mary Jane and I would like to express our condolences to Carol, Shanda and the Metzler family. As neighbors we always enjoyed seeing David working in the yard and appreciated our discussions about politics and science.

Willie McLemore

October 3, 2013

My Condolences to the Family. I was one of Dr. Metzler's graduate students. He was a wonderful advisor and teacher. May the lord watch over you and keep you well.

Willie McLemore, MD, Phd, 1963

October 2, 2013

Carol and Family, I am so sorry for your loss. Please know I am here for you. I left you up in my prayers that God will strengthen you in these difficult days. I am so glad I had the opportunity to visit with David while in Iowa in August. It was so nice reading of David's wonderful complishments and how much he loved life and family! What a life well lived.

Shirley Yeatts Carlyle

October 1, 2013

I'm thinking of you all. I smile remembering David shifting that big old VW van as we were lost in the cornfields of Iowa on our way to soccer games. He always had a smile (except when I told him that I really did want a new mall in Ames....) He will be missed. Lots of hugs, Jill A.

October 1, 2013

Our condolences to David's family. I attended Scattergood School with Susan.

Lee Tesdell