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Robert Folk

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Robert Folk Obituary
Robert T. Folk
Robert T. Folk, 86, of Bethlehem, died on Tuesday, November 12, 2013, at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg with family by his side. He was the husband of Ingeborg (Hampel) Folk, with whom he shared nearly 55 years of loving marriage. They had three children, Thomas, Dieter, and Christine. Born in Reading, Robert (Bob) was the son of the late George and Florence (Klopp) Folk. Upon graduating from Allentown High School, Bob enlisted in the Army Air Corps where he served as a member of a B-29 bomb group at the end of WWII. After being honorably discharged, Bob was eternally grateful that his G.I. bill funded his education at Lehigh University, where he earned B.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Engineering Physics. He was subsequently awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Fellowship which made it financially possible for Bob to continue his education at Lehigh University where he earned masters and PhD degrees in Physics. For two summers he worked at Bethlehem Steel, fixing wires on moving cranes over the open hearth. Bob then joined the physics faculty at Princeton University. There he met and married Inge. Bob was then awarded a NSF Post-Doctorate Fellowship which paid for all expenses and made it possible for him to do research at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at University of Heidelberg in Germany. His boss at Heidelberg was Hans Jensen, who later won a Nobel Prize in Physics. On Christmas Eve their son, Thomas, was born. They returned to Princeton for a year before Bob joined the Physics faculty at Lehigh University in 1961. His accomplished career included teaching over 25,000 students, directing students research leading to six PhDs, writing an 800-page physics text book with Professor Radin, and performing research in nuclear, elastodynamics, and fluid dynamics theory. He was also active in shaping Lehighs policies, including spearheading committees to change the grading system to +/- grades as well as influencing the university to become co-ed in the 1970s. Lehigh became a second home to Bob filled with colleagues he enjoyed and respected. Bob retired in 2009 at the age of 82. Bob was endlessly devoted and dedicated to his family, consistently providing and helping with whatever was necessary. His childhood experiences made him compassionate and understanding towards individuals in need which in turn influenced his political convictions. One of his greatest joys, besides spending quality time with his grandchildren, was playing basketball until he was 70 years old with Lehigh basketball team players, coaches, and other faculty. He was also a faithful fan of Lehighs football team. We will forever miss his sense of humor, stories, and brilliance. Survivors: Wife, Ingeborg; daughter, Christine Hawk and her husband, Marty, of Frederick, MD; son, Thomas Folk and his wife, Sally, of Bethlehem; sisters, Marilyn Frack and her husband, Leonard, of Salisbury Township, Joanie Keiper and husband, Kenneth, of Allentown; brother, George Folk and his wife, Dolly, of Macungie; grandchildren, Leandra, John, Kirsten, Katelin, Jessica, and James. Robert was predeceased by seven siblings; and his son, Dieter Folk, who died at age 42. Services: Funeral service at 10 a.m., Saturday, November 23, in the Long Funeral Home, 500 Linden St., Bethlehem, where friends may call from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday evening, and from 9 a.m. until time of services on Saturday morning. A memory tribute may be placed at www.longfuneralhome.com. Contributions: In lieu of flowers, to Doctors Without Borders USA, PO Box 5030, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5030; or to Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 230 East Ohio Street, Suite 304, Chicago, IL 60611.


Published in Morning Call on Nov. 17, 2013
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