Rebecca A. W. Elson, an astronomer whose work on dense star clusters significantly advanced our understanding of cluster dynamics and stellar evolution, died on May 19, 1999, from non-Hodgkins lymphoma at the age of 39. She was a published poet, a creative researcher, and a colleague of extraordinary insight and warmth. Her contributions to our field, and to those who work in it, will be sorely missed.
All Posts by Crystal M. Tinch
PATRON OF THE AMERICAN ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
After a valiant, 9-month struggle with pancreatic cancer, Guenter Brueckner died on 11 July 1998 in Fairfax, Virginia, at the age of 63. He had spent 31 years of his scientific career at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), first as Head of the Solar Spectroscopy Section in the Rocket Spectroscopy Branch under Dr. Richard Tousey and then as the Head of the Solar Physics Branch, one of the two solar physics groups created when Tousey retired. Guenter was recognized as a very effective leader in developing advanced instrumentation to address problems in solar physics.
William Blitzstein, a modern pioneer in stellar radiometry, died February 27, 1999. Born of immigrant parents, he went to Philadelphia public schools and by his late teens had become the person of choice to silver mirrors for Philadelphia amateur astronomers, an early indication of the observer-instrumentalist he was to become. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania as a physics major in 1941 and received his PhD in astronomy, also from Penn, in 1950 under Newton Pierce and Charles Olivier.
Jeff Willick, 40, assistant professor of physics at Stanford University, was tragically killed by a runaway car while working at a coffee-shop on June 18, 2000. Jeff was an observational cosmologist who had done important work in mapping the peculiar velocity field of galaxies and comparing the results with the large-scale distribution of galaxies. He is survived by his wife, Ellen Schneider, and three children, Jason, Emily, and Julia.
On February 26, 1999, exactly one year after the great Caribbean total eclipse of the Sun, astronomers were eclipsed by the untimely death of Kenneth Willcox. As his wife, Sara, put it, "There was an eclipse of the fun" when Ken lost his 11 year battle against cancer.
Walter J. Wild, a senior research associate in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, collapsed and died at the age of 44 while attending a lecture at the University on January 11, 1999. Walter was known world-wide as an expert on the mathematics of adaptive optics, a real time technique for compensation of image distortion caused by atmospheric turbulence.
Richard A. White, 52, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD, died of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) on May 30, 1999, at Sibley Memorial Hospital (Washington, DC) near his home in Bethesda, MD. Richard was born in Marblehead, MA on June 9, 1946, the son of Benjamin M. White and Gertrude Berman White and attended the Putney School in Putney, VT. He received an AB from the University of California, Berkeley and MS (1971) and PhD (1978) degrees from the University of Chicago.
Joe Weber died on 30 September 2000 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during treatment for lymphoma that had been diagnosed about three years earlier. Joseph (Yonah ben Yakov) Weber was born in Paterson, New Jersey, on 17 May 1919, the last of four children of Lithuanian-Gallitzianer immigrants Jacob and Lena Weber (the original family name of Gerber having been changed to match an available passport).
Jan van Paradijs, who died in Amsterdam on November 2, 1999, was one of the world's foremost high-energy astrophysicists. He will probably be best remembered for the discovery, on February 28, 1997, of the first optical afterglow of a cosmic gamma ray burst (GRB), which established the distant, extragalactic nature of these events and solved what had, for some 30 years, been a major problem in astrophysics.
Gijsbert van Herk, Dutch astronomer long associated with Leiden Observatory and a dedicated astrometrist, was born in Breda, in the southern part of The Netherlands, on October 14, 1907. He studied astronomy first at the University of Amsterdam, earning the Doctoraal Diploma (Master's degree) in 1930. His Master's thesis concerned photometry of the Magellanic Clouds. At Amsterdam, van Herk was deeply influenced by A.
Hendrik "Henk" C. van de Hulst, an honorary member of the AAS, died in Leiden on July 31, 2000, at the age of 81. He was one of the greatest Dutch astronomers of the past 150 years. In 1944 he had predicted that the amount of neutral atomic hydrogen in interstellar space would be so great as to produce a measurable signal at the radio wavelength of 21-centimeters. This prediction led to a breakthrough in astronomical research. Henk van de Hulst was born in Utrecht, The Netherlands, on November 19, 1918. He was one of six children born to W. G.
"Hank" Spreitzer was born and educated in, and remained a lifelong resident of, Cleveland, Ohio. He was affiliated with several astronomical institutions in that city and was a long-term member of the American Astronomical Society. After graduating from Maple Heights High School in 1932, Spreitzer served for several years with the Civilian Conservation Corps in the state parks of Colorado and Kentucky before joining the Warner and Swasey Company of Cleveland in 1936 as an elevator operator.
The Ohio State University Department of Astronomy is sad to announce the death of Professor Emeritus Arne Slettebak on May 20th, 1999, following a short illness. Arne was born of Norwegian parents in Freistadt Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland) on August 8th, 1925, and emigrated to the United States with his family in 1927, becoming a US citizen in 1932. He graduated with a BS in physics from the University of Chicago in 1945 and received a PhD in 1949, with a thesis on rotational velocities of O and B stars guided by W.W. Morgan.
Carol Jane Anger Rieke was born on January 17, 1908. She pursued classical studies at Northwestern University, changing her major after a fateful decision to take astronomy to satisfy a breadth requirement. Inquiries to astronomy graduate schools on her behalf were met with stem admonitions against women students—with the exception, of course, of Harlow Shapley at Harvard. In 1928, Anger started down the same trail that had been blazed by Cecelia Payne only four years earlier; to obtain a PhD in astronomy from Radcliffe College.
Kandarpa Narahari Rao, a member of the AAS since 1949, died in Madisonville, Kentucky on May 5, 2000. He was a long-time molecular spectroscopist and professor of physics at Ohio State University.
John Aloysius O'Keefe, one of the pioneers of the Space Age and the man famed planetary scientist Eugene Shoemaker called "the godfather of astrogeology," died on September 8, 2000, from complications due to liver cancer. O'Keefe was 83.
Oscar Monnig was born on 4 September 1902 in Fort Worth, Texas, where he lived his entire life. His father and an uncle were co-founders of Monnig's department stores there. In 1925 the young Monnig earned an LLB at the University of Texas. He practiced law in Fort Worth for a few years before joining the family business in 1928. He held a number of positions in the business and was president from 1974 to 1981, when the firm was sold.
Freeman Devold Miller of the University of Michigan's Department of Astronomy died January 10, 2000, at the age of 91. A recognized authority on comets, Miller had been at the University of Michigan since 1946. Always active, he came to his office in the astronomy department daily after his 1977 retirement, and published his last refereed paper, on Comet Bennett, in 1992. Illness finally got in the way of continuing his work in 1998.
On 10 December 1998, William Mesrobian passed away at the age of 55 in Framington, Massachusetts. Born in Syracuse, New York he received his undergraduate degree from Syracuse University and a master's degree in astronomy from Wesleyan University, with a thesis entitled "A Study of the Astrometric Binary System Ross 614AB." This and most of his other publications, including eight lists of stellar parallaxes, appeared in the Astronomical Journal.