Erich Wolfgang Vogt Passed away on February 19 after a short illness. He lived a long and eventful life shaped by his sense of wonder and enormous vitality. He had a profound influence on his five children, 16 grandchildren, thousands of students and countless colleagues. He will be greatly missed.
Erich was born on November 12, 1929 in the small Mennonite community of Steinbach, Manitoba. A store-keeper's son and one of six brothers, he knew at an early age that education was the key to his future. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Manitoba (B.Sc. 1951) and his doctorate at Princeton University in 1955. He had the good fortune to be working in nuclear physics during a period when the field was flourishing. Many of the giants of 20th century physics were his mentors and colleagues. From 1956-65, Erich was on the staff of the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratory and was closely involved in the creation of the CANDU reactor. In 1965, he started teaching at the University of British Columbia. He was a gifted and caring teacher. He gave his last lecture in 2009 at the age of 80.
Erich was a founder and one of the prime movers behind TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1974 for his role in this project. From 1975 to 1981, he was a Vice President at U.B. C. and from 1981 until his retirement in 1994, he was the Director of TRIUMF. He received many awards and honourary degrees during his lifetime and served on science advisory panels at Los Alamos, Stanford, Berkeley, MIT, Rice University and universities in Germany and Switzerland. He was co-editor of 'Advances in Nuclear Physics' from 1968 to 2004.
His personal life was equally full. In 1952, he married Barbara Mary Greenfield who shared his life, nurtured his family and tempered his excesses and eccentricities until her death in 2006.
He is mourned by his five children and their spouses: Susan (Joel), Lisa (Chris), David (Tracy), Jonathan (Eleanor) and Robert (Brenda) and his 16 grandchildren: Samuel; Madeleine, Patrick, Gabrielle, Charlotte and Peter; Megan (Hamish), Eric, Kennedy and Brianna; Naomi and Deborah; Parker, Nicolas, Matthew and Alexander, his surviving brother, Peter (Linda), his brother-in-law, Oliver (Elaine) and a wide circle of friends and former students in the United States, England, Australia, Japan, Israel, Switzerland and many other countries. The world was a place of wonder for him and the pursuit of knowledge and experiences was essential to a life well-lived. He taught his children and grandchildren to love books, nature, music, birds, languages, travel, gardening, story-telling, history and the special places of Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island, where the family vacationed every summer and the mountains of British Columbia. He was not, however, a straight-laced academic. He had a low German sense of humour and a pronounced competitive streak. He grew tons of tomatoes every summer and baked dozens of fruitcakes and made sure that everyone knew the latest count. He frequently embarrassed his children with his lack of inhibition in public. He was a very intelligent man who retained a school-boy exuberance into old age. He lived a fortunate life.
A Celebration of Erich's life will be held March 8, 2014 from 2-4 p.m. at the U.B. C. Sage Bistro.
Memorial donations to the Erich Vogt UBC First Year Student Research Experience Fund.
Saturday February 22, 2014
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