John A. Smegal

Feb 05, 2019
John Smegal

Spruce Head — John A. Smegal, 62, died of cancer Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, at his beloved home in Spruce Head.

John was one of four children of John E. and Assunta T. (Arci) Smegal and was raised in Farrell, a small town in western Pennsylvania. At an early age John fell in love with chemistry and, inspired by his high school chemistry teacher, went on to earn a bachelor's degree at Penn State University in 1978 and a doctorate. in inorganic chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley in 1983. After a post-doctoral appointment at Princeton University, he joined the Shell Development Co. in the Catalysis Department in Houston in 1985.

John enjoyed a very fulfilling and successful 30-year career at Shell, where he developed more than 20 catalysts for use in the refining and petrochemical industry and received more than 30 patents worldwide. He retired to Maine in 2015 with his spouse, James S. Zoller. John and James met in Houston in 1993 but eventually discovered and fell in love with Maine in 2001, deciding to make it their part-time and then full-time home. They were married in Maine in 2013.

John had many interests outside of chemistry and science, including the repair and restoration of antique clocks, and was a member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors since 1986. He was also an avid book collector and specialized in first editions of science fiction and detective fiction, among other topics. As a member of the Knox Reading Circle, he also enjoyed reading American history.

John is survived by his husband of 26 years, James S. Zoller, and their two dogs, Abby and Stella; his three sisters, Christine Sakonyi of Hermitage, Pa., Susan May and her husband, Robert, of West Middlesex, Pa., and Mary Ann Reynolds and her husband, Jeff, of Hermitage, Pa. Also, two sisters-in-law, Deborah Reile and her husband, Larry, of Lake Hills, Texas, and Susan Granzin and her husband, Miles, of New Braunfels, Texas; and numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

John’s wishes were to not have a service, but for those so inclined, contributions to your local animal shelter and/or library in his honor would be greatly appreciated.

Arrangements are with Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home, 110 Limerock St., Rockland. To share a memory or condolence with John’s family,  visit their Book of Memories at

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.