Harold Daw

Obituary
  • "I remember Harold Daw as a gifted teacher and a gentleman..."
    - Colin Gromatzky
  • "I remember Dr. Daw and his fabulous bow ties. Always..."
    - Audrey Hardman-Hartleu
  • "It is so sad to learn of the death of Dr. Daw. He was able..."
    - John and Virginia Owens

Harold Albert Daw was born October 25, 1925 in Granger, Utah to Albert W. and Helen Rebecca Bawden Daw. As a young man he was involved in Scouting and earned his Eagle Scout Award. He attended Granite High School and soon after graduation, he was drafted into the US Army. He completed his Bachelor's degree in Physics with High Honors. He was called to missionary service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He went to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, where he labored "without purse or script," carrying all he had in a little green suitcase and sleeping in barns or wherever he could find during the summer months. He completed his Master's degree in 1952. He married Mary Garfield in February 1953 in the Salt Lake Temple. Immediately they got on the train and headed to Baltimore, Maryland where Harold was completing research for his Doctoral Degree in Physics. After completion of his research, he needed a job. There were several openings for an assistant professor of physics. He took the job at New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts. It later became New Mexico State University. Las Cruces turned out to be a wonderful place to raise a family. The best people in the world lived there. And New Mexico State University would become Harold's love. He loved teaching physics all his life. He was awarded the Millikan Award by the American Association of Physics Teachers in 1975 for creative teaching of physics. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Citation by the AAPT. He became a full professor and then Physics Department Head. As Department Head, he secured the funding of the research addition to the physics building, built a solid graduate and research program and hired a number of the physics faculty. He was acting Dean of Arts and Sciences and Associate Dean to Tom Gale. He served as Associate Vice President of the University under President Gerald Thomas and Vice President Donald Roush, where he presided over the University's research program. Under his watch, NMSU became a Research 1 University. Almost anywhere you go on campus, you can see results of his tenure in this office. He was instrumental in the selection of centers of excellence (genetic engineering and computing) and in the subsequent funding of the Plant Genetic Engineering Laboratory and the Computer Research Laboratory. He helped in the construction of the bill which led to the founding of the Energy Institute and played an essential role in its early development. He served on the Governor's Technical Excellence committee and helped in the establishment of the Rio Grande Research Corridor. In this capacity he was one of the prime movers in bringing equipment funds to NMSU. A sizable portion of these funds helped in the establishment of the Apache Point Observatory –although this was also the work of Jack Monagle and others. He also put up the funds for the housing of the wind tunnel donated by Los Alamos. It was used for years in the study of filtration systems by Phil Smith. He urged and brought about the storage facilities in the physical Plant area. When the art department barracks were destroyed by fire he conceived of the idea to house them in Williams Gym and after some urging, persuaded John Glowaki (Head of Music and Art) that it would make a fine facility for art. It did and has since been added to. He suggested the naming of the road into the desert to the south east of the campus Geothermal Drive. He helped in developing the use of geothermal energy on the campus and worked to bring the greenhouse industry to the campus. He helped in the development of the East Campus, locating Grant Kinzer's scabies research there. He helped to get the power line training center to East Campus with Bill Kersting. He has published about 80 papers; almost all of them in the area of instructional physics. He led in the founding of the Arrowhead Research Park and the Genesis Center. He effected the acquisition of the Mountain Laboratory near Sunspot for NMSU as well as the Primate Research Institute at Holoman Air Force Base. He also participated for a number of years in the University Honors Night Program and the statewide Visiting Scientists Program. His presentations were entitled Fysics is Phun. He spent a summer visiting several universities in India (1969) sponsored by the National Science Foundation. He participated and significantly contributed to the Commission on College Physics Summer Program held at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1965. This was also sponsored by the NSF. He served on the governing board of the American Institute of Physics. He received several awards for inventions throughout his career. He invented the air table for friction experiments that would later become the Air Hockey game. As children, we enjoyed the dancing flames of the flame table and flame tube, watching the collisions on the air table, the smoke rings from the "bull in a box", trying out the huge ride-on gyroscope and swimming in the cattle tank he acquired to create a motion room. He retired in 1990, but continued to invent and publish and teach physics all the rest of his life. Mary and Harold had eight children, raising seven to maturity. Glen (Kayrene) is a physicist. Michael (Sandy) was a computer programmer. He and his wife are both deceased. Kimberly(Dave Zabriskie) is a mother. Anthony (Annette) is a chemist. Marshall (Heidie) is a CPA. Rachel (Jim Dransfield) is a mother. Ramona (Jeff Pomeroy) is a mother and a physicist! Harold and Mary have 30 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren with more coming. Harold's siblings are Carol, Dawna, Owen and LaRae. Two brothers, Weston and Glen, predeceased him. He was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all of his life. He spent his time in service to his fellowmen. He was a Bishop and Stake President in Las Cruces. He and Mary served two missions together. They were ordinance workers in the Albuquerque Temple. He is an ordained Patriarch in the church. He received the Silver Beaver award for his continued work in Scouting. He was a long time member of the Sun Country de Las Cruces Kiwanis Club. He was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, Sigma Pi Sigma, American Association Physics Teachers, listed in American Men of Science, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received awards of first prize for a momentum conservation experiment (1956), third prize for an air bearing gyroscope for determining the earth's rotation (1965), first prize for a hand held spectrometer (1984), and third prize for driven aluminum rods with Robert Liefeld (1992). The two dimensional air table was marketed with his aid by the Ealing Corporation for physics departments. Ealing also marketed six single concept films on kinetic theory that he developed. He passed away on March 15, 2014 after a sudden and brief illness. He would say to all he meets –it is even his phone greeting-"Welcome to the wonderful world of Physics." To his family, "Keep the Faith." To his wife, "I love you and will see you soon." To all, "Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him." There will be a memorial service held Tuesday, April 29th at noon at the Idaho Chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, located at 2915 E Idaho Ave in Las Cruces. If you would like to, we invite you to wear a bow tie in Harold's honor.
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News on Apr. 27, 2014
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