DONAT G. WENTZEL

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WENTZEL DONAT G. WENTZEL, Ph.D. "Don" June 25, 1934 - February 20, 2013 After experiencing the first signs of cancer only two months ago, Don's journey to die with dignity came to a peaceful end on February 20 at the home of his only child Tania DuBeau, son-in-law Ed DuBeau and grandson Dylan (15) in Glenwood, MD with the gentle care and support of Gilchrist Hospice. He was born the only child of Gregor and Anny Wentzel in Zurich, Switzerland in 1934 and came to Chicago, IL as a young teen beginning to learn his English from comic books. Although he met the future love of his life soon after coming to the US, it was not until 1959 when he married Maria Mayer. After earning Bachelor's and Master's degrees at the University of Chicago, he spent a year studying in Leiden in The Netherlands while Maria was studying in Germany. It was upon their return to Chicago that he married her and then in 1960 earned his Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Chicago. After teaching for 6 years at the University of Michigan, they moved with their daughter to Lanham, Maryland where they raised her. From 1966 until his retirement in 1994, he was an astronomy professor at the University of Maryland. While there, he shared his passion for making astronomy interesting for non-science majors and was instrumental in developing the first Astro 100 course which was later offered at other US colleges and taken by thousands of Terps students over the years. He further enhanced astronomy and solar physics education for college students in scientifically developing countries around the world, including China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Iran through teaching classes, coordinating and presenting at international conferences, and serving in several capacities with the International Astronomical Union, International School for Young Astronomers, American Astronomical Society (AAS), and American Association for the Advancement of Science. His book "The Restless Sun" was named Book of the Year in 1989 by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and in 2003 he was awarded the George Van Biesbroeck Prize by the AAS for his extraordinary contributions. Don described his 46-year marriage to Maria as "precious and enduring" and devoted years to caring for her until she died in 2005. In memory of his mother and wife, he dedicated his last seven years to volunteering and serving as Board President and Vice President of Compassion and Choices of the National Capital Area to ensure that end of life choices exist for all. With Maria, he had shared a love for worldwide travel, intellectual conversations, good wine, theaters, visits to Switzerland, and their daughter and her family. During 2012, he continued to enjoy spending several months in Ascona, hiking in the Swiss mountains and traveling through Italy with Tania's family, visiting friends and family in Germany and Poland, and while back home in Rockville MD he spent weekends at his daughter's home attending Dylan's games, playing cards, and enjoying family and holiday dinners. He will be buried beside his wife in Ascona, Switzerland. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you buy a good bottle of wine, share it with someone you love, and toast to your memories. Prost, Don, to a well-lived life and well-deserved rest. Ciao.

Published in The Washington Post on Feb. 22, 2013
bullet University of Michigan
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