Robert W. "Bob" Albrecht
Bob Albrecht passed away at his home in Seattle on June 6, 2020
from complications of Inclusion Body Myositis. Born March 31, 1935, in Cleveland, Ohio, Bob earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University. He went on to earn his Master and Doctorate degrees in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan with a fellowship from the Atomic Energy Commission. He graduated with his PhD in 1961; the first in his family to attend college.
In the summer of 1956, Bob traveled to Seattle with his friend and fellow Purdue engineering student, Mary Kasak, where they both had summer jobs at Boeing. That's where he fell in love - with Seattle and with Mary. Bob and Mary were wed shortly after graduation in 1957. In 1961, with a second baby on the way, Bob began his career as professor of nuclear and electrical engineering at the University of Washington.
During his 40-year career, Bob mentored many graduate students; taught classes at all levels; and consulted at nuclear plants and research facilities around the world. He spent several summers working at the Critical Mass Laboratory at Hanford. He was a strong proponent of breeder reactors as the most practical way to ensure a reliable electrical energy supply in the future. In his last decade at the university, he created an autonomous robotics lab to do early work on sensors and mobility.
Bob and Mary travelled as often as they could, and had several opportunities to live and work overseas during sabbaticals. This included extended stays in Karlsruhe, Germany; Hitachi City, Japan; and Paris, France. They kept a map with pins in more than 60 countries visited on six continents. Bob also filmed and edited travelogues of their adventures and shared them with friends and colleagues.
Bob and Mary enjoyed hosting parties and gatherings. After experiencing Fasching in Germany, they decided to bring the tradition home, organizing elaborate costume parties that friends are still talking about to this day.
Bob loved to fly. He flew Beechcraft Bonanzas as a member of the Lynn Air flying club and needed very little excuse to take friends on a flight, often something as simple as dinner in the San Juan Islands. Bob and Mary took long trips in the airplane to places like Alaska, the Midwest, Florida, and Mexico. They also flew around Australia in a rented Bonanza.
Bob was known to be intellectually sharp, well read, and always ready for a friendly debate. He often said his aim was to learn at least one new thing every day. In late retirement he wrote and published a book, Introduction to the Beauty of Calculus.
Higher education was important to Bob. He set up significant college funds for his granddaughters as well as for two close friends. He encouraged Mary and his daughter, Liz, to obtain Masters degrees in their fields of interest.
His generosity was big, unquestioning, and close to home. When a colleague needed a place to bring his family after escaping communist-bloc Hungary, Bob found him a position at the UW. After being diagnosed with IBM, Bob volunteered for a clinical trial which required frequent travel to Portland, OR, for infusions.
Bob is remembered by his many friends as an optimist and engaging storyteller with a big heart. Upon retirement, he established the Wednesday Lunch Bunch (WLB) which welcomed all-comers for weekly discussions and camaraderie at the University of Washington Club. Bob presided over these lunches for 20 years as the self-appointed Grand Poobah.
Bob is the only son of Robert Albrecht and Elsie (Foster) Albrecht. He was an endlessly caring and supportive husband, father, and grandfather who is survived by his wife, Mary; his son, Robert Albrecht Jr., with daughters Renee and Amelia; and his daughter, Liz Behlke with her daughter Aurora.
A remembrance will be held in Bob's honor at a later date.
Published in The Seattle Times on Jun. 14, 2020.