Home | Alumni List | Mug Shots | Search site

What Alumni are saying about
LASR and the Chicago Midway Labs

Last addition: October 27, 2011

The following notes have been received from alumni recollecting about some facet of the early days of LASR or about its predecessor, the Chicago Midway Labs. I have listed them chronologically, as received with the newest one at the bottom. The links below should help you jump to a given message.

Drag | Sopron | Harvey | Fan | L'Heureux | Sauer | Shimotori | Hsieh | Sauer | Yates | Stone | Brubaker | Kruley | Murphy | Hunsinger | Brubaker | Drag | Economou | Emerson | Murphy | Blenz | Murphy | Boruta

Date: April 2002
Subject: Mug Shots
From: Eugene Drag, Chicago IL -

Hi Jacques,

The names of the suspects in the mug shots are,

#1 Frank Wells.... worked in quality control with Ray Martin.
#2 Bob Sauer....not sure of spelling of last name, yes he was the German engineer
#3 Joe Jezewski
#4 Jimmie Landrum....machinist, worked in LASR shop with Al Hoteko
#5 Julius Kristoff.... worked with Tony Tuzzolino and Murry Perkins

In your comments about Midway Labs, if you were thinking about a mechanical engineer named Thomas, that would be Hank Thomas. Yes, George Vrabel (#9) was one of the photographers who took these pictures for photo ID badges required at Midway Labs. I think all employees had to have a secret or top secret security clearance. Photographs may only exist for personnel who worked at Midway Labs.

You are correct, Jimmy LeBlanc was the fellow who died in his hotel room in College Park MD on a trip to GSFC in connection with an instrument test or delivery. His photograph is not in the collection.

Date: April 2002
Mug Shots
From: Fred Sopron, Chicago IL

Hi Jacques,

About the mug shots, I think that

#1 was the fellow who died on a trip, based on the stories I heard. He was before my time though!

#2 is definitely Bob Sauer. He was a German who had a sailboat on Lake Michigan and I worked for him and Remi when I was hired into LASR. His story was: Jim Lamport
promised him that Don Bonasera (balloon group) would get the next warm body to step through the door at LASR (Bill Hollis) and he (satellite group) would get the 2nd
warm body (me).

#3 is a very young Joe Jezewski.

#4 looks like the machinist, Jimmy Landis, who worked with Al Hoteko in the early 70's.

I think you're referring to Henry (Hank) Thomas, the mechanical designer. He was one of the old-timers. Everything he designed 'piloted together", no shear forces on the screws, just compression!!

These pictures are really of the 'old timers' that George Vrabel (#9) took. They were found in the photo lab when we did a major clean-up. I think they were for ID's.

You're doing a great job Jacques, thanks.

Date: April 2002
Subject: RE: Chicago Midway Labs

From: Warren Harvey, Tarpon Springs FL

Hi Jacques,

CML is Chicago Midway Labs and it later became part of LASR. Simpson wanted the electronic group of CML and the rest was disbanded. The director of CML was Thorfin R Hogness, a professor in the dept. of chemistry at the U of C. I will scan you the book called the CML Story.

Date: May 2002
Subject: RE: Early Years
From: Charlie Fan, Tucson AZ -

Charlie FanAt that time (early 1950s), Hogness was the director of the Midway Lab, but the person responsible for the collaboration was Lucien Biberman, Systems Director of Midway Laboratory. Simpson felt that Midway Laboratory needed a cosmic ray physicist to give the major direction of the project.

At that time, after having worked with Aden Meinel on auroral physics for five years, I decided to accept a teaching position in University of Arkansas. For some reason, Simpson decided to call on me to assume the responsibility of the construction of a set of proportional counters for the Pioneer II project. I decided to come to Chicago to work on the project for three summer months. After I arrived in Chicago, the first thing I found was that the detector system should be modified. I changed the double coincidence system to a seven counter system connected in triple coincidence. That means that I could no longer leave in three months.

I received my degree in 1952. My official thesis director was Herbert Anderson. However, since Anderson was sick from beryllium poisoning and lived in Norway for many months, I worked on my thesis without director. From time to time, Fermi dropped by to see how my work was going.

Ed Stone was a student who, for the first time, used an Au-Si surface barrier detector for the measurement of radiation belt particles.

Under the contract of Holloman Air Force, I designed a dE/dx vs E detector system for balloon flight. George Gloeckler assisted me to finish the unit. Somehow, George's picture is not in the group. Christine Gloeckler (George's wife) was the one who assisted me to analyze the data from Pioneer 5.

Date June 2002
Subject: RE: Early Years
From: Jacques L'Heureux, Columbia MD

I came to Chicago in September 1961 to enter graduate school. Later that fall, I started working in the laboratory of Peter Meyer on the third floor of the Enrico Fermi Institute (EFI). I assisted Robbie Vogt, Peter's first student who was just getting his PhD.

The following summer, Peter asked me to start working on a prototype of an electron detector whick Peter wanted to fly on a satellite. At that time, the project had not been approved and we were only making laboratory tests. He introduced me to Charlie Fan who was Peter's collaborator on this instrument. Later that summer, Charlie took me to Midway Labs, somewhere across from the Midway, around 62nd Street. I remember the lab as a large building set on a large piece of land surrounded by a high fence. There, I met with Hank Thomas, the mechanical engineer who was to help us design the detector system. Hank was friendly to graduate students but he impressed me as a good designer. I made several trips to Midway Labs, but never by myself. This prototype later became the OGO-E electron detector.

It soon became obvious that this was too long a project for a PhD thesis and Peter Meyer recommended that I work on a balloon instrument instead - which I did. I flew an instrument several times from Fort Churchil, Canada and received my PhD degree in 1966. But in the meantime, I continued working on the OGO-E electron detector,

After we all moved in the new LASR building in 1964, Hank finished the mechanical design of the the electron detector, helped by Myron Weber. Parts were machined in the EFI shop Tom Burdick and later on Warren Harvey worked on the electronics. It was assembled in LASR, integrated at TRW in California and flew successfully on the OGO-5 satellite in 1968 from the Kennedy Space Center. A dozen or so papers resulted from this instrument including two PhDs, Dayton Datlowe and Gordon Fulks.

Date May 2003
From: Bob Sauer, Menlo Park CA

The Midway Lab as we knew it (1960) was known as the Laboratory for Applied Sciences. The original Simpson Team of satellite designers (electronic) were B. Takaki, R. Emmert, E. Tums and B. Sauer. Later E. Grokulsky and R. van Welden joined us. Takaki, Tums and Emmert left LAS circa 1963, before we moved to 933 E. 56th Street and became LASR. I was the Sr. Circuit Designer for many a project OGO, IMP, SURVEYOR, Balloon projects.

I'm saddened by the deaths of Simpson, Meyer and Turkevitch with whom I had close contact on their projects. I also worked D. Mueller, D. Hovestadt (visiting scientist from Germany). Worked with Charlie Fan, Ed Stone, R Vogt and many others. I was with the Labs for 12 years.

Went into industry in 1972, as Engineering Manager, for an instrumentation and control systems manufacturer. By acquisition of the Chicago company wound up in Texas as Director, Corporate R&D, instrumentation and control for hydrocarbon processing. After that (10 years later), back to Aerospace in Boulder Colorado (10 years). Was cofounder/owner of a company designing and manufacturing custom switchmode power supplies. Partners and I sold Company after 5 years. I did consulting work for Space Systems/Loral in California, then joined them as manager of power systems development for the International Space Station. I retired in 1998, Loral "recalled" me as a consultant on commercial satellite developments ( mainly in electronic power processing).

Since two years ago, I'm again retired in Menlo Park, CA right next door to Stanford University and SLAC.

Date May 2003
Subject: George Shimotori
From Teri Shimotori, Denver CO -

Bonjour, Jacques

I happened to find your LASR site when I was searching on my family's names. I am the grand niece of George Shimotori, whose birth name was actually Goroji Shimotori (or Goroge, which looks like George). My mother had always told me he helped put a man on the moon, but I never knew what to believe!

If you wanted an update for your alumni page:

Goroge passed away in Chicago on September 21, 1989, at the age of 76. His ashes are buried at Cabrillo Point National Cemetary in San Diego. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army Military Intelligence in the Pacific theater of World War II. He is survived by his younger sisters, Masako and Nobuko, both in San Diego.

Date: June 2003
Subject: RE: George Shimotori
From: John Hsieh, Tucson AZ -

Hello, Teri:

Yes, I knew your grand uncle when I was a student working at Midway Lab (summers of 1962 and 1963) then at LASR until 1969. He worked on photomultiplier tubes and electronic circuits for particle detection. He had steady and skillful hands in putting parts together. He tested each thing he put together systematically and with care. I learned from him. He was a gentle and patient person. He seldom talked, but always did the right things that need be done and moved on. I had great respect for him. I wish I knew him more as a person, but because of his quiet manners, I did not learn too much of his personal life and other interests.

Being in his generation and place, I can imaging the difficulties he had gone through. I am glad he was honored to be buried as a veteran.

You should be proud of Grand Uncle Goroji!

With best wishes,

Johnny Hsieh

Date: June 2003
Subject: RE: George Shimotori
From: Bob Sauer, Menlo Park CA -

Hi Terri, Jacques,

Yes I knew Georg Shimotori from LAS (Midway) and LASR. He worked with Joe Jezewski in the source preparation laboratory. I knew him from 1962 to 1972. Among many activities, they prepared and manufactured small radioisotope sources of Am241, (Americium 241) for our cosmic ray telescopes. These sources were used in the calibration and functional checkout of many LASR satellite and balloon borne instruments. They, Joe and George, were responsible for the proper maintenance of these sources and to prevent leakage of radioactive material over the rest of the telescope and instrument. As far as the the man on the moon - well we at LASR were a little bit ahead of that! We, and that includes just about everybody of the "old gang" at LASR worked on the Surveyor satellites. These were unmanned lunar landers sampling the lunar soil. So your mother was close.

George was an interesting character. He lived on North Clark Street in Chicago in an old neighborhood. He lived pretty much a "hermits" live. He was quiet, friendly, humorous - yet not a great socializer. I don't think he drove a car. He had a hell of a commute from where he lived. I think he carpooled sometimes with Remi Jacquet. Jim Lamport, our technical services director then, had some real good ideas. He decided that all of our crew should at one time or another see the whole picture from concept to launch. George was sent on one of those trips: GSFC and then the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. George got on the wrong plane and we lost him for aday or two. Another anecdotal memory: George for many years had not filed Income Tax. He thought the Government made the necessary deductions and he did not have to do anything further. As I remember, this did not phase George one bit but Jim Lamport and the University got the Legals working and George was exonerated. Interesting, I didn't know about George's military activities. I'm sad to hear that he passed away at the age of 76. I guess it means more to me since I'm 71! I enjoyed working with George - there were never any mistakes. Teri, thanks for bringing back many memories..

Bob Sauer #12, on Jacques' Mug shots

Date June 2003
From: John Yates, son of Ken Yates


I hit your alumni page doing a search on my Dad, Ken Yates. Since you are asking for updates: After a career in Physics with the Air Force at Hanscom Field, MA and a happy retirement in South Carolina, he died last August. We moved to Massachusetts in 1964, so I imagine you can change the 196x to 1964. . . But I was only 6!

John Yates
[Ken's obituary]

Date: June 2003
Subject: RE: Ken Yates
From: Ed Stone

Dear John

I knew your dad in graduate school. He was the last of John Simpson's students whose Ph.D. work involved developing and flying a balloon-borne instrument. Simpson gave him the challenge of miniaturizing an instrument that probably weighed several hundred pounds to something like twenty pounds (as I remember) so that it could be launched quickly to look at energetic helium nuclei that would sporadically come from the sun at times of large solar flares. He flew his instrument five times in 1959-60 and obtained measurements during one large solar particle event in November 1960. As a beginning graduate student I remember building a voltage multiplier circuit for his photomultiplier tubes. Later, he was a constant source of advice as I began developing an even smaller space instrument for my thesis.

I did find an obituary at http://news.greenvilleonline.com/obits/obits.php?content=obittext&id=61823

With regards,

Ed Stone

Bill Brubaker

Date: Thu, 06 Nov 2003 14:53:39 -0500
Subject: LASR Remembered Website
From: Jack Brubaker

My dad is Bill Brubaker who worked in "the shop" as he always said it. He worked out the practical problems of how to make the conceptual designs buildable. He started on the al. hemisheres for the implosions and worked on many of the high altitude and moon landing devices. He is now in Bloomington IN (where I live) in an altzheimer care unit. He remains a chearfull fellow but doesn't remember much of those days. I showed him a print out of the "mug shots". Several minutes after I had pointed out his picture ond some of his friends he often spoke of he looked up, bright eyed, and said "hey, look I'm in here". During his later years he worked on projects from one particular "prof".

Can anyone tell me more about the projects he worked on?

Jack Brubaker

Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2003 15:37:11 -0500
Subject: Pete Kruley & LASR
From: Kruley, Michael (HHS/OS)

I came across the website of the LASR alumni doing a google search, and saw the name of my brother, Peter Kruley. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1996. After LASR, he attended the U of WI, working on a PhD in psychology.

Michael Kruley

Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 17:27:38 -0600
Subject: Re: [Fwd: Pete Kruley & LASR]
From: Eugene M. Murphy


No I did not know about Pete. I read your first email regarding Pete's extremely early death (at the age of 40!) with great surprise and sadness. I notified others who were not on your distribution list but who were quite close to Pete--Cliff Lopate, Greg Guzik, and Rudy Guzik who is Sharon Guzik's father. Sharon and Pete worked together daily.

I found corroboration on the web in the form of an In Memorium mention of Peter Kruley in the National Psoriasis Foundation's 1999 Annual report.

I considered emailing Pete's brother, Michael, who it seems to me was about 10 years older than Pete. I also lost my only brother in 1996, so I can understand how this could be a devastating blow that takes years to become accustomed to. But, I have decided to write him after my own shock has diminished.

God! I wonder what happened. People aren't supposed to die of Psoriasis.

I always liked and respected Pete. He typed faster than anyone I'd ever seen, possibly a result of learning how to play the piano at an early age. He performed mental arithmetic faster than a computer, probably a spinoff of being a life expert (master?) in Bridge. His Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from The College at the University of Chicago, and his 10 years of computer programming at LASR uniquely qualified him for great accomplishments in the field of Psychology which is still awaiting its Isaac Newton. I had great hopes and wishes for him.

When we sent Pete to Europe for the integration of COSPIN to the ESA's Ulysses spacecraft, he didn't even contact his father, who he was living with in Oak Park at the time. After 5 or 6 days, his father called me at LASR and asked what I had done with his son! So, I relayed his father's concerns to Pete in Europe who in turn called his father finally.

So, because he was never very out going, I wasn't surprised that we only heard from him a few times after he quit in 1987. He contacted us just after the launch of Ulysses in Oct. 1990. And he visited us within a couple of years after that. I had assumed everything was fine.

In fact, I recently considered contacting him, just to see if he'd heard any good ones lately. I remember asking him this once, and he laughed. He seldom told jokes, to me, at least; so my question came out of the blue.

I, on the other hand, told quite a few funny stories to him. However, I have the habit of appreciating my own humor with a good laugh. Pete would NOT laugh if the person telling the joke laughed first. But, the joke could be truly inferior and if told with a straight face, he would invariably break up.

Sorry to be so long winded about Pete, but you seemed to be offering a shoulder to cry on, and I guess I couldn't resist.


Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2004 11:36:18 -0800
Subject: My life after LASR
From: Dan Hunsinger

Dear Jacques,

This is Dan Hunsinger checking in again. I worked at LASR from 1965 until 1973 mainly with Peter Meyer’s group. While there I obtained BSEE and MSEE degrees from IIT while working full time. This would not have been possible without the encouragement and support of Peter. What a fine gentleman!

I went from LASR to Hewlett-Packard’s Instrument Research Laboratory in Palo Alto, Ca. designing integrated circuits. One year and a qualifying exam later I entered the Ph.D. in EE at Stanford while continuing with HP. I left HP in 1988 as R&D manager of the Santa Clara Instrument Division with product responsibility for Microwave and Time Interval Counters, Waveform Recorders, Laser Interferometers and Cesium Atomic Clocks. For you instrument makers out there, the Clock loses one second every 500,000 years, but has a one year warranty. If you’re interested, I would suggest buying a number and phase-locking them.

Next job was with Allergan, Inc. as VP of R&D working on detecting and measuring the progression of Glaucoma. Left there in 1992 to become President and COO of EIP Microwave, Inc., a producer of microwave instruments, from which I retired in 1995.

I live in Santa Clara, Ca. where I have since 1976.
Dan Hunsinger

Date: Sun, 18 Apr 2004 21:15:07 -0500
Subject: Midway LAbs site -- photo # 33 is my dad
From: Virginia Brubaker

Hi! Photo # 33 is indeed my father, William H Brubaker, who worked at the Midway Labs/ Central Shop, etc for many years.

Virginia Brubaker

Date: Mon, 21 Jun 2004 13:33:57 -0500
Subject: Re: Midway LAbs site -- photo # 33 is my dad
From: Virginia Brubaker

Hi, Jacques,

I think he left the university in 1972 or 1973. My parents moved to the Springfield, Missouri area and lived there until 1988 when they moved to Bloomington, Indiana. My dad died June 11 of this year.

Virginia Brubaker

Date: Mon, 04 Oct 2004 10:39:00 -0500
Subject: RE: Dale E. Suddeth
From: Gene Drag

Hi Gary, Jacques,

Gary , you got that right. Dale Suddeth and James Patterson, both employed at Argonne worked on the Surveyor project. Dale did some electrical engineering and Jim was involved with the production of Alpha sources used in the instrument.

Tom Economu would also know more about the Surveyor instrument and the personnel.


Added by JL: Argone news release about the Alpha Scattering Instrument on Surveyor 5-6-7

Date: Mon, 04 Oct 2004 11:11:46 -0500
Subject: RE: Dale E. Suddeth
From: Thanasis Economou

Dale Suddeth was indeed an electronic engineer working at LASR with Wayne Anderson on the electronics of the Alpha Backscattering Instrument on the Surveyor Lunar mission projects in 1965-1967. He designed the calibration module and was responsible for the flight calibration electronics of the ABI. He was, as correctly stated by Gary, on loan from the Argonne National Laboratory and he returned to Argonne shortly after the Surveyor 5 launch in September 1967.

Wayne Anderson continued to work here for quite some time on the follow-up alpha backscattering instruments (I think until 1973), but he also left and was working for a little while at a company making police "Mars lights". Does any one have any information of what happened to him after that?

--tom economou--

Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2006 15:11:51 -0800 (PST)
From: Tom Emerson
Subject: LASR Alumni listing

Dear Dr. L'Heureux,

I happened to come across the LASR Remembered Web site a few months ago. I worked there for a very brief time in 1968 and didn't think anyone would remember me; but I noticed recently that my name has been added to the LASR Alumni list.

I did (as the listing says) work at LASR, as a data manager on the Pioneer 6 and 7 projects; I started as an employee sometime in the spring of 1968 and left that summer (not in 1969, as the alumni listing says). I shared a lab with Roger Pyle and Dave Smith. Without going into detail about my post-LASR career, I ultimately finished a Ph.D. in mathematics at NYU in 1995 and now work in Silicon Valley.

I have some information which you may not have about a few of the other names on the list. I met Lee Hecht in 1969, after we had both left LASR - he had left physics (after getting his M.S., I think) to go to U of C graduate business school, and I worked for Lee in a company he started, Phoenix-Hecht, Inc. A few years later he sold the company and moved to the San
Francisco Bay area, where he was CEO of several other small hi-tech companies (Teknowledge and Modernsoft,Inc., and possibly one or two others); as far as I know he still lives here.

The rest of this information is based on my memory, so I'm not guaranteeing its accuracy. Bruce Katz was a programmer who planned to leave LASR in the fall of 1968 to go to graduate school in computer science (at the University of Wisconsin, I believe). And I seem to recall a name not on your list - Tom Keck, a programmer and graduate student (in mathematics?) who was Roger Taft's office-mate.

Perhaps you could also find a place on your list for another LASR alumnus from that era: the Scientific Data Systems 930 computer in the basement where our data analysis jobs were run. As you probably know, SDS was acquired by Xerox and renamed Xerox Data Systems before being shut down sometime in the '70s. I believe the last surviving instance of that model is in storage somewhere in California.

I hope this information can be of some use to you. I had one question, if you don't mind answering: as I said, I was there for such a short time so long ago I was surprised that anyone had remembered me at all, let alone what my job function was. Might I ask where your information came from?

All the best,
Tom Emerson

Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2006 11:24:27 -0600
To: Tom Emerson
From: Eugene M. Murphy
Subject: Re: LASR Alumni listing

Hi Tom,
Yes, I brought your name to Jacques' attention last September with the following information:

Tom Emerson Data Manager 1969 Tom preceded Dan Morrison and Jim Coates
for Pio-6/7 as the Data Manager for Pioneer 6 & 7 working with Dave Smith & Roger Pyle who were grad students. Tom wrote most of MUDDL--the Operating System for the "Dump Tape", which held all of a project's processing & analysis programs for the SDS 930.

Time seems to be dilated in my memory that far back. That is, it just seemed to me that you were in LASR for more than the few months that you actually were. This is why I had '1969' for your date of leaving, instead of '1968'.

I was hired in August 1967 as the data manager for IMP 1,2, and 3. This was quite similar to the position you held on Pioneer. Some of our required duties were relatively undemanding and at least one of them seemed to both of us to be beneath our dignity: preparing and storing plots that had been generated on the Cal/Comp plotter attached to the SDS 930. I enjoyed the jocular manner in which you expressed your objection: "Cutting plots apart is dangerous. You could accidentally lop a finger off with that razor blade!"

I also recall entering the south stairwell on LASR's second floor and being slightly amazed to see you coming down off the roof through the trap doors at the top of those stairs. I had assumed those doors were always locked, since I had never seen anybody use them before. I must have made some remark about Superman requiring a similar entrance because I distinctly recall you replying:

"Faster than a speeding computer.
More powerful than a locomotive.
Able to leap tall piles of mag tape in a single bound.
Look! Up in the sky...
It's a bird!"
It's a plane!"
It's...Super Data Manager!!!"

You actually carried it on for a couple more stanzas ("disguised as a mild mannered..."). It was quite funny and we both enjoyed your rendition.

As to Roger Taft's office mate, you are correct and I am surprised that I missed the omission of Keck's name from the LASR Alumni list. I'm quite certain that we all called him "Sam", although I admit that it is possible his formal first name began with the intial 'T' because "T. S. Keck" rings a bell. I worked with Sam on several projects in the years between 1968 and 1972. He continued at LASR until 1972 or 1973 because I remember that he attended my wedding in 1972, and, within a year afterwards, he left LASR for a job in Reno at the University of Nevada, I think.

Best Regards,


Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2006 16:19:21 -0400
From: Dick Blenz <rblenz@indiana.edu>
To: Jacques L'Heureux
Subject: Update


I am Richard (Dick) Blenz. I joined Dr. John Simpson's Cosmic Ray group at the beginning of 1955. You wish an update of my activities. I left The University of Chicago at the end of February, 1966, to immediately join the Physics Department of Indiana University at Bloomington, Indiana on March 1, 1966. I was the Department's Electronic Supervisor for exactly 40 years to the minute when I retired on March 1, 2006. As a retiree I am serving the electronics division of Ivy Tech, a state owned technical school, part time now.

The reason for leaving Chicago after 11 years was that I became so interested in cave exploring that I bought Buckner Cave, near Bloomington, decided to live on the 50 acre property, built a home, and and am now directing the affairs of the Richard Blenz Nature Conservancy, Inc.

Anecdote: Near the end of 1954 I was given a Chicago Tribune want ad, placed by a Dr. John Simpson, which was looking for an electronics technician at Enrico Fermi at University of Chicago. I called the number and was surprised to find Dr. Simpson having answered the call. After giving Dr. Simpson a short resume of my background, Dr. Simpson said that I should come for an interview. In an effort to be honest I offered the information that I did not have a college degree of any kind, only a lot of experience. Dr. Simpson shocked my by saying "I am surrounded by degrees around here." "I want someone who can do something.". I had the interview and got the position which was extremely interesting because Dr. Simpson assigned a technician to a project for its duration. I flew balloons in Texas and Canada while actually being the person who went on the recovery trips by air and auto as well as preparing flight loads. It was a great job and provided a lot of fun work for 11 years.

Richard Blenz
8070 W. Eller Road
Bloomington, IN 47403

Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2006 11:37:16 -0500
From: Eugene M. Murphy
To: Jacques L'Heureux
Subject: Re: LASR-EFI alumni - News from Dick Blenz

Hi Jacques and Dick,

Sure, I remember Dick Blenz. I met him down at the "Speliospot" in his barn in 1965 or 1966. Doug Love and I were caving in Queen Blair and Buckner's on one Sunday during the usual college summer hiatus. This seems like an eternity before I was actually hired by John Simpson in August of 1967, but it was only a year or two. For Dick's benefit, I worked as a programmer/analyst (later as the Manager of the Data Group when Gordon Lentz retired) at LASR for 33 years before taking an early retirement shortly after John Simpson's death.

I doubt very much that Dick would remember me since I believe I was only one of hundreds of young aspiring cavers he probably met over the years. On the other hand, I'd be surprised if he didn't remember Doug Love who acquired some limited notoriety in the spelunking world. Jacque, Doug never worked at the U of C, so if you ever heard of him, it was probably only through the gossip and innuendo that seemed to follow poor Doug around much as a brilliant ionization trail follows a meteor crashing to Earth.

Also, Bill Mixon was my office mate in LASR from 1976 through 1981. Bill would occasionally mention Dick. Come to think of it, Bill gave me a map of either Buckner's or Queen Blair, that I promised to give to Larry Weber who had been my college roommate and later became a Professor at the University of Illinois in the Electrical Engineering department. I believe Dick may remember Larry as well.

It just occurred to me that I may also have heard about Dick from "Gabe" (aka Roger Gabriel) who we all worked with until he retired in 1986.

Sometimes it seems like a small world.


Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2011 18:28:08
From: "Boruta, Nicholas" <nboruta@roadrunner.com>
To: Jacques L'Heureux
Subject: Nick Boruta


I was a Grad Student of Gene Parker's from about 1972-1977 and left in 1977 with ABT (all but thesis). I had to quit and went to work for SILICON VALLEY firms (INTEL, AMD, SIGNETICS among many others) until 1995. In that year I talked to the dept and Gene Parker and convinced them that I could complete a thesis while I was in California. I did, in fact, complete the thesis (in 10 months) in Astrophysics with Gene - in fact I was his LAST PhD student and was probably the oldest to obtain the PhD from the Physics Dept - I was 48 at the time. I finished and defended my thesis and obtained the PhD (in a Theoretical work on solar magnetic fields) in 1995. During my thesis work, I flew down to see Gene probably about 2 or 3 times to talk face to face with him. The last time I visited LASR was when I visited Gene and I understand that the building has now been torn down.

I work at the Skunk-Works (Lockheed Martin Aeronautics – Advanced Development) in Palmdale,Ca. as a Research Scientist in the development of Low Observables Technology (ie, Stealth).

My background in Astrophysical Plasmas has been very useful in my current research.


If you would like to add your story/comments to these, just email it to me.

Back to Top
to Home

Compiled (and slightly edited) by Jacques L'Heureux
Started September 4, 2002
Last modified October 27, 2011