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Michael J. Pikal

August 17, 1939 February 26, 2018
Michael J. Pikal
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Obituary for Michael J. Pikal
Michael J. Pikal, 78, a longtime resident of Mansfield Center, died suddenly on Monday, February 26, 2018 at his home. Born in Wadena, Minnesota on Aug. 17, 1939 he was the son of Harold and Sophie (Shirilla) Pikal and the loving husband of Janice L. (Klein) Pikal. Michael grew up in Minnesota and was a graduate of Henning High School. He went on to earn his bachelor's in Chemistry from Iowa State University in 1966, followed by postdoctoral training in the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. He was Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Tennessee from 1967 to 1972. Dr. Pikal joined Eli Lilly Research Laboratories in 1972 as Senior Research Scientist and his contributions to the company spanned 24 years. He wanted to return to academia so joined University of Connecticut as Professor of Pharmaceutics in 1996. From 1998 to 2001, Dr. Pikal served as Department Head of Pharmaceutical Sciences while maintaining a fully active and highly productive research program. In 2005 he was installed as the inaugural Pfizer Distinguished Endowed Chair in Pharmaceutical Technology.
Dr. Pikal was known as a giant in the field of freeze-drying technology. During his illustrious career he has been the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions. In 1997 he was the recipient of the Ebert Prize from the American Pharmaceutical Association. Just during his time at UConn his research contributions include more than 170 publications. His legacy will continue through the more than 40 Ph.D., graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting scholars that he trained and inspired.
Mike was passionate about his research and students but his greatest passion was the love for his family. He was the most loving husband, dad, and papa that a family could imagine. Mike enjoyed hiking, fishing, kayaking, and skiing with his children and loved spending time with his grandkids more than anything. He traveled the world with his beloved wife and family. He lived life to the fullest and touched the lives of so many. He will be deeply missed but will live on forever in our hearts.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Janice; his children Mary (Karl) Schadewald, Dr. Jon (Eva) Pikal, Dr. Robert (Susan) Pikal, Dr. Katherine (Jeff) Cleland, Dr. Amy (Jay) Pikal-Roberts, and 14 beautiful grandchildren Derrick, Elaine, Kassie, Jaimie, Jackson, Sophia, Sabrina, Matthew, Michael, Kayla, Claire, Keaton, Elle, & Cade. He is also survived by his brother Wayne Pikal.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Saturday at 9:30 am at St. Joseph Church, 99 Jackson St, Willimantic, CT. Burial will be at the convenience of the family. Visiting hours will be held on Friday, March 2, from 6:00pm- 8:00 pm at the Bacon Funeral Home, 71 Prospect St, Willimantic. Donations in his memory can be made to St. Joseph Church in Willimantic or the UConn Foundation, Inc./ Michael J. Pikal Graduate Fellowship in Pharmaceutical Technology Fund.
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