James C. Letton, an organic chemist who held a patent for the fat substitute Olestra and was chair of the department of chemistry at Kentucky State University, has died at the age of 79.
Dr. Letton was a native of Paris, Kentucky, and was a graduate of Kentucky State University. After earning his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois, he joined the faculty at Kentucky State. He was hired by Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble in 1975 and made several improvements to their laundry detergent products. He then became a member of the research team that developed Olestra.
Dr. Letton and his wife established a scholarship program for students from Cincinnati who studied music at Kentucky State.