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Frits Zernike, 80, of Essex, died July 12. He was married for 49 years to Barbara Backus Zernike, who survives him, as do his children, Frits III, Harry, and Kate; his daughter- and son-in-law, Jennifer Wu and Jonathan D. Schwartz; and three grandchildren, Frits and Nicolaas Schwartz and Anders Zernike. He was born in Groningen, the Netherlands, and spent an interim year studying at Johns Hopkins University before receiving his Doctorandus in physics from the University of Groningen. He moved to the United States in 1956, and was a longtime director of optical design for the Perkin-Elmer Corporation in Norwalk. He was also the director of optical design for Silicon Valley Group, a consultant for Carl Zeiss, and was the first manager for the Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography Program, a collaboration between the Department of Energy and private industry to develop the technology to produce the next generation of microprocessors, breaking previous limits on their speed and capacity. He was also the co-author of "Applied Nonlinear Optics." He was the president of the Community Music School in Centerbrook from 2003-2007, president of Friends In Service Here, an organization that provides rides for those unable to drive, and was steward of Cross Lots, a property of the Essex Land Trust.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, at the Essex Yacht Club, Novelty Lane, Essex, CT. Donations in his memory may be made to the Dance for Parkinson's Program, c/o NMS, 100 Audubon St, New Haven, CT 06510, or the Community Music School, P.O. Box 387, Centerbrook, CT 06409.

Published in The Hartford Courant on July 18, 2011
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