Sir William Hunter ('Bill') McCrea, doyen of British astronomy, held in respect and affection by all generations, died peacefully on April 25, at the age of 94. McCrea was born in Dublin, the eldest child of a schoolmaster. His parents were strict members of the Plymouth Brethren, but by the age of eighteen he had become a confirmed Anglican, a faith he retained all his life.
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William Markowitz, an astronomer at the US Naval Observatory from 1936 to 1966, died in Pompano Beach, Florida on 10 October 1998. He served as Director of the Observatory's Time Service Department (1953-1966) during a period when timekeeping and time dissemination underwent rapid progress.
On 10 February 1999, Barry M. Lasker died suddenly following a heart attack. Barry was an astronomer for almost 40 years, playing an important role in the creation of two of the world's most highly-respected observatories, the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, and the Space Telescope Science Institute. His work on the Guide Star Catalog and the Digitized Sky Survey significantly influenced the entire field of observational astronomy.
George Edward Langer, Professor of Physics at Colorado College, died of a pulmonary embolism February 16, 1999, in Colorado Springs. He had just begun treatment for lymphoma. He is survived by his sister Judy Corning, his wife, Jo, and his three children, Mary, Sarah and James.
Carlos Jaschek died in Salamanca, Spain on April 12th, 1999. He was born in 1926 in Brieg, Germany (now Brzeg, Poland), but emigrated to Argentina with his parents at the age of 11. He began work at La Plata Observatory in 1947 and obtained his PhD in astronomy in 1952.
Art Hoag was a member of several professional organizations including the IAU and the AAS. He served as an AAS Councilor from 1966 to 1969 and Vice Presiderit from 1974 to 1976. He was born January 28, 1921, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and died July 17, 1999, in Tucson, Arizona, following a brief illness. He is survived by his wife, Marge; his two children, Stefanie and Tom; his three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Louis Green was born in Macon, Georgia in 1911 and joined the faculty of Haverford College in 1941. For over 50 years, as Professor of Astronomy and College administrator, he played a central role in the life of the College and of its faculty, and inspired generations of students. Louis died on April 10, 1999.
Patrick Fleming, who died on the 4th of July 1998, was a man respected alike for his professionalism and his other cultural pursuits.
Pat was a true Dubliner, coming from the North Circular Road area.
He was born in January 1938 and received a Leaving Certificate from O'Connell's c.B.S. in 1956 and a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from University College Dublin in 1961. Graduate apprenticeship at Parsons-Reyrolle, Durham (England) qualified him for chartered membership of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
Together with his wife, Helen, Charlie Federer (who died September 28, 1999) founded Sky & Telescope. The impetus came from Harvard College Observatory director Harlow Shapley, who suggested the Federers come to Cambridge and meld two troubled magazines — The Sky (then produced at New York's Hayden Planetarium) and The Telescope (produced at HCO). Shapley provided office space for the enterprise, and S&T remained under Harvard's wing until it outgrew the available facilities. The staff moved to its present quarters in 1958.
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.
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.