Dr. Albert Paul Linnell
1922 - 2017
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Dr. Albert Paul Linnell

Dr. Albert Paul Linnell, age 94, died on January 20, 2017, at his Horizon House residence in Seattle, Washington. He was born in Canby, Minnesota, in 1922, the second child of Edward Payson and Pearl Huston Linnell. The family moved to Boyne City, Michigan, in 1924, and then to nearby Petoskey in 1929, where Albert graduated from Petoskey High School in 1940. He attended the College of Wooster in Ohio, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1944 with bachelor's degrees in physics, mathematics and chemistry. Having completed his studies in 1943, and with World War II raging, Albert enlisted in the United States Army in the summer of 1943. He received a commission as Second Lieutenant in the Signal Corps and served in the Philippines from 1945 to 1946, where he was promoted to First Lieutenant. Thereafter, Albert attended Harvard University, where he obtained a PhD in Astronomy. As a graduate student, his first publication, "UX Ursae Majoris", was the discovery paper of systems now called Cataclysmic Variables. His study of a cataclysmic variable star system led Albert to a lifelong study of binary star systems.

Albert taught astronomy at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, from 1949 to 1966. While there, he organized a four-college astronomy department that encompassed Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke, the University of Massachusetts (and later Hampshire), and served as the first Chairman of the new astronomy department. He was among the pioneers of high speed astronomical photometry, a member of the Goldberg panel that proposed the national observatory at Kitt Peak, AZ, and a member of the site survey panel, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, to select the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory site in Chili.

In 1966, Dr. Linnell founded the Astronomy / Astrophysics Department at Michigan State University in East Lansing and became the first Chairman. During his twenty-five year tenure, he mentored many graduate students, led the team that designed and built the MSU Campus Observatory, and pursued his specialty of modeling binary star systems. He developed the BINSYN binary star simulation package. After retiring in 1991, Professor Emeritus Linnell moved to Seattle, Washington. He was granted Visiting Scholar status with support from the University of Washington and continued to study binary star systems, specifically Cataclysmic Variable stars. His studies included extensive collaboration with fellow astronomer, Ivan Hubeny. Albert was a visiting professor in Prague while in his 80's. He published extensively in the Astronomical Journal and the Astrophysical Journal up to the age of 91. In honor of his prolific contributions for a period exceeding 50 years, Dr. Linnell was awarded the prestigious Inspec Ruby Author award in 2008. Albert became a Fellow of AAAS in 1991, is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Frontiers of Science and Technology, Men of Achievement, American Men of Science, and Directory of Distinguished Americans.

Albert married his college sweetheart, Jane Elliott, in 1944. They had five children. Jane died in 1991. In 1993, Albert married Ann Schnatterly Kremer, a fellow professor at Michigan State University. Their union at Kalaloch, WA was one that the extended Linnell and Kremer families heartily approved. Al and Ann lived in the Laurelhurst section of Seattle until 2009, when they moved to Horizon House in downtown Seattle. They were long supporters of the Seattle Opera.

Albert was cherished and will be sorely missed by his family, which includes his wife Ann of Seattle, his sister Rachel Linnell Wynn of Catonsville, MD, his five children and their spouses, Carol Linnell and Ian Halsema of Los Angeles, CA, Paul Linnell of Queens, NY, Andrew Linnell and Natasha Dashkovskaya of Hudson, MA, Barrie (Linnell) and Rick Westerwick of Holmdel, NJ and Scott and Susan Linnell of Colts Neck, NJ, along with ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He is also survived by five step-children and their spouses, Paul Kremer of Silverdale, WA, Mike and Sabrina Kremer of Seattle, WA, Blake and Oratai Kremer of Tacoma, WA, Lisa Kremer and Randy McCarthy of Fircrest, WA, and Jay and Kat Kremer of Half Moon Bay, CA, along with ten step-grandchildren and one step-great-grandchild.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, February 12, from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Horizon House, 900 University Street, Seattle. Messages of condolence can be sent to Linnells, 900 University St, #1605, Seattle, WA 98101. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation to AAAS (The American Association for the Advancement of Science) Philanthropy Office, 1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005 (www.aaas.org); or, to The Leukemia And Lymphoma Society, www.lls.org.

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Published in The Seattle Times on Feb. 5, 2017.
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