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Henry H. Kolm

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Henry H. Kolm Obituary
Henry Herbert Kolm, 85, of Wayland, passed away at Emerson Hospital in Concord Thursday, July 29, 2010. He and his wife, Elizabeth, had been residents of Wayland since 1955. Dr. Kolm was a Senior Scientist and researcher at MIT in the fields of physics and electromagnetism. He was born in Vienna, Austria on Sept. 10, 1924, to Dr. Richard and Ella (Jellenik) Kolm; narrowly escaping the Holocaust, his family immigrated to the U.S. in 1939. After finishing high school in Philadelphia, Henry served in the 20th Armored Division and the U.S. Army Intelligence Service, interrogating Nazi prisoners at a secret installation near Washington D.C. known only as "P.O. Box 1142." He was part of a small group of personnel to set up Project Paperclip on Ft. Strong, a secret mission to import and house German scientists on an island in Boston Harbor. Among them was Wernher von Braun, with his Peenemnde V2 rocket team. Following the war, Henry attended MIT, where he earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in physics. His illustrious career included co-founding the MIT Magnet Lab and development of world record electromagnets. He was recognized for his many inventions and contributions to science such as high gradient magnetic separation and water filtration, high-speed maglev transportation systems, and development of electromagnetic aircraft catapults and projectile launchers. On retirement from MIT, he founded several companies, and was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 1981 by Money Magazine. He received the Peter Mark Medal for outstanding contributions to electromagnetic launch technology, and was named 1994 Engineer of the Year by the NE section of AIAA. Henry was an accomplished pianist with a lifelong passion for classical music, was fluent in French and German and held a first degree black belt in Korean Karate. Throughout his life he was passionate about flying and held a commercial pilot's license with ratings for multi-engine, seaplane and instrument operation. Henry was predeceased by his younger brother Eric in 2009 and by his beloved wife of 50 years, Elizabeth Olmstead (Cushing) Kolm, in 2002. He is survived by his four daughters: Margaret Kolm and her partner David McCallie of Kansas City, Mo.; Juliet Gibbs of Sudbury; Edna Dripps and her husband Gregory of Littleton; and Cornelia Cesari and her husband John of Chelsea, Vt. He is also survived by eight grandchildren: Eliot and Justin Gibbs; Henry, Alexander, and Amadea Cesari; and Francesca, Isabella, and Lorenzo Dripps. A celebration of his life will be held Sunday, Sept. 19, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at the Pierce House in Lincoln. In lieu of flowers, donations in his honor may be made to Sudbury Valley Trustees, 18 Wolbach Road, Sudbury, MA 01776, sudburyvalleytrustees.org.

Published in The Wayland Town Crier from Aug. 10 to Aug. 17, 2010
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