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Wilbur P. Brown Ph.D.


1934 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Wilbur P. Brown Ph.D. Obituary
February 14, 1934 - September 9, 2015 Wilbur P. Brown, PhD, devoted and beloved husband, father, scholar, scientist and athlete, passed away on September 9th, 2015, after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 81. He and his wife, Ria, were married for 43 years. Although they divorced in 2005, their strong bond to each other remained intact. In 2012, when the Parkinson's became too much for Wilbur to deal with on his own, he left his beloved Maui home and moved back to Bell Canyon, CA, where Ria took loving care of him. He is survived by their two children Michael and Corinne, 2 grandchildren, his sister Barbara, and numerous nieces and nephews. Dr. Brown received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and in Engineering Mathematics in 1957, M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1958 from the University of Michigan, and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1962. At Michigan, he played on the varsity football team (1953), received the IRE Outstanding Student Award 1956 and tied with another student for having the highest academic grade point average among three hundred engineering students in the class of 1957. While at Caltech he was a Howard Hughes Fellow from 1959 to 1962. After graduation Dr. Brown continued work at Hughes in their Research Laboratories in Malibu, California where he was a member of the Technical Staff (1958-1967); Senior Staff Physicist (1967-1977); and Senior Scientist (1977-1990) during which period he was Head of the Electromagnetic and Quantum Theory Section of the Optical Physics Department (1981-1990). He retired from Hughes in 1990 to pursue consulting interests from 1990 until his passing (George). During his career his research interests centered on topics related to the theory of propagation, scattering and diffraction of electromagnetic waves and the application of these theories in the analysis of communication, radar, imaging, and other optical systems. He published extensively with masterful publications on these topics in the scientific literature. He developed numerical techniques for solving nonlinear optical propagation problems such as two-wave mixing in photorefractive materials, four-wave mixing in gases, and stimulated Raman and Brillouin scattering. He developed and modeled techniques for the compensation of images propagated through atmospheric turbulence, computer simulations of adaptive optical systems, and created theoretical analysis and simulation of phase-conjugate optical resonators. He also worked on the theory of laser propagation in atmospheric turbulence and on the asymptotic theory of diffraction from convex scatterers (George). Besides his extensive scientific accomplishments, Wilbur also managed to build his family's multi-level home in Bell Canyon from the ground up in his spare time, with the assistance of his son Michael. Upon this world, and upon the lives of his loved ones, Wilbur has left an indelible mark. He was a man of great honor - the truest gentleman one can imagine. He is remembered most by his family, colleagues and close friends as having heroic integrity, a kind and sensitive heart, a joyful smile, adorable wit, eloquent speech, unbelievable humility, and a profound love of life. His bright, impactful presence is deeply and sorely missed by all who shared the privilege of having known him. Paragraphs cited as (George) are written by Wilbur's old friend Nicholas George, PhD, Wilson Professor of Electronics, Imaging, Institute of Optics, University of Rochester, 2015.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Sept. 10 to Sept. 17, 2016
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