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Kurt W. Weiler (1943-2016)

Kurt Walter Weiler, age 73, passed away at home in Alexandria, Virginia, surrounded by his family on 17 April 2016. He fought a courageous battle against prostate cancer for 24 years. Kurt was born on 16 March 1943 in Phoenix, Arizona, to Henry Carl and Dorothy (Esser) Weiler. He is survived by his beloved wife Geertje (Stoelwinder), his three adopted children Anil, Sanna and Corinn (son in law Chris); mother Dorothy and brother Robert.

After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Arizona in 1964 and his PhD from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1970, Kurt began his career as a Research Fellow at Caltech. In 1970, he moved to Haren in Groningen, Netherlands, to work for the Netherlands Foundation for Radio Astronomy. Thereafter, he worked for Laboratorio di Radioastronomia in Bologna, Italy, and then the Max Planck Institut für Radio Astronomie in Bonn, Germany. Kurt always loved Europe and its lifestyle, and met his wife Geertje there. After nearly a decade, Kurt returned to the U.S. to work for the National Science Foundation in 1979, and finally at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, D.C., from 1985 to 2012.

Kurt was an internationally known and respected scientist. He had a long and successful career in radio astronomy, which has included many important accomplishments, excellence in scientific research and an outstanding track record of mentoring young scientists and engineers. Among his most important accomplishments is as a leader in the discovery of Radio Supernovae (RSNe) and his subsequent large body of exemplary work on this phenomenon.

During his career, Kurt wrote more than 250 publications, served as editor of seven books, was invited to lecture at over 50 meetings and conferences, and holds a patent. Specific areas where Kurt was impactful:

Kurt was a leader and mentor of many students and postdocs who are contributing actively to science and technology in the US and the world. Perhaps Kurt’s most lasting contribution to the future of science and technology may be the highly qualified young scientists and engineers he has guided and mentored. These have included many high school students, most of whom have gone on to careers in teaching, engineering, science, or medicine.

Personally, Kurt had a passion for vintage Jaguar automobiles, was an avid skier, and loved to be with family. There was nothing that he could not fix. Those who knew him will miss his sense of humor, guidance, honesty, and warm, loving personality.

Photo: Namir Kassim

Obituary written by: Namir Kassim (Naval Research Laboratory), Chris Stockdale (Marquette University), Schuyler Dyk (IPAC-Caltech), Tom Wilson (Retired)

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BAAS Citation: BAAS, 2018, 50, 006