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Daniel Koleske


1962 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Daniel Koleske Obituary
Daniel D. Koleske



Dr. Daniel D. Koleske of Albuquerque, NM, died in his home surrounded by family and friends on June 29th, 2018, after a year-long battle with lymphoma. We will remember him for his ability to love and laugh through difficult times. He was 55 years old.

He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Julianna (Mahoney) Koleske of Albuquerque, NM; and children, Claire Koleske and William Zimmerman of Seattle, WA, Adam and Milo Koleske of Albuquerque, NM; his parents, Daniel and Shirley Koleske; brothers, Matthew (Sharon) Koleske, Anthony (Ruth) Koleske; mother-in-law, Edythe Mahoney; brother-in-law, Thomas (Patricia) Mahoney; sisters-in-law, Maria (Mark) Basaldua, and Jennifer Mahoney (Patrick Goff); along with many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and colleagues who loved him dearly. He was preceded in death by his father-in-law, Donald Mahoney; grandparents, Irene and LeRoy Jensen, Veronica and Frank Koleske, and Florence Nelson.

Dan was born in Racine, WI, on August 16, 1962, to Dan and Shirley Koleske, on their 4th wedding anniversary, and spent his early years forming basement rock bands with his brother, Tony, tinkering with his science kit, and working at McDonalds. It was there that his brother, Matt, introduced him to his future wife, Juli. She was by his side through every step of their married life, which began at St. Rita's Parish in 1984. In 1991 they welcomed their first child, Claire, followed by Adam in 1994, and Milo in 1997.

Dan attended St. Rita's Elementary School, and graduated from St. Catherine's High School in 1980. He completed his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984, and received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1992. His research career moved him and his family all around the country, starting in 1992 with a postdoctoral appointment at IBM in Yorktown Heights, NY, followed by a second at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C., where he became a full staff member in 1995. In June 2001, the family moved to Albuquerque, NM, where Dan joined Sandia National Laboratories. At Sandia, he was a principal member of the technical staff and worked on MOCVD growth of group-III nitride semiconductors, which has applications to improving solid state lighting. While at Sandia, Dan amassed over 230 publications, 9517 citations and 3 patents. He was a humble and brilliant-minded man.

In addition to his scientific research, Dan had a creative streak a mile long. He played the guitar and accordion, drew, played darts with his friends, and could fix anything around the house. Always opinionated, he found an outlet to cope with the challenges of work, family, and homelife by creating short comedic films. He loved to invent new recipes, and prided himself as a master chef. At Eldorado High School, he served as the Hydration Specialist for the Marching Band, a title he proudly established, and was a student favorite at career day and as a science fair judge. He often gave presentations at his children's schools and loved to share his passion for science. He was a member of Risen Savior Catholic Community, prayed the rosary often during his last year of life, and faithfully followed where God led him.

In his final months he traveled to Wisconsin and stayed with his dear mother-in-law, Edie, as he underwent CAR-T immunotherapy. The family will forever be grateful for this chance he was given for a cure. Although the cure for Dan was in the salvation of the Lord, the care and compassion he and Juli received at the University of Chicago was top notch. Special thanks to Dr. Kline, Allyssa Roy, Sarah Long, and all the amazing nurses and techs who cared for Dan until he returned home on Father's Day. Additional thanks to Legacy Hospice, his wonderful nurse, Anna, and aide, Brook.

A vigil is scheduled for Monday, July 9, 2018, at 7:00 p.m., followed by a reception at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 210 Alvarado Dr., SE, Albuquerque, NM, 87108. His Resurrection Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, at 1:00 p.m., followed by a reception at Risen Savior Catholic Community, 7701 Wyoming Blvd., Albuquerque, NM, 87109.

Donations in memory of Dan can be made to the American Vacuum Society New Mexico Chapter, NMAVS-Bauer, 345 Bighorn Ridge Dr., NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87122. Please visit our online guestbook for Daniel at

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Published in Albuquerque Journal on July 8, 2018
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