FRANCOISE ARON ULAM Francoise Aron Ulam, or "F," as she was affectionately known, died April 30 at the age of 93 at El Castillo. She was born in Paris, France in 1918 and came to the United States in 1939 as an exchange student as war was breaking out in Europe. That began her remarkable odyssey as an eyewitness to history. She studied at Mills College and Mount Holyoke College, earning a Master's degree in Comparative Literature. In 1941 she met Stanislaw Ulam, a young Polish mathematician at Harvard, whom she married. In 1943 they were recruited to join the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos at its inception. In Los Alamos Francoise became part of the unique international community of scientists and mathematicians who changed history during the Atomic Age. Like many of the Manhattan Project wives, initially she knew very little about the purpose of the "Gadget," as the bomb was known at the time. She devoted herself to creating a home and raising a baby in the beautiful American Southwest where, as Stan put it "the air felt like champagne." The friendships and associations that the young couple developed in Los Alamos gave Francoise a global worldview that would last the rest of her life. When they later moved from Los Alamos to Santa Fe, their house on Old Santa Fe Trail became a gathering spot for the great scientists of the era. While she was quintessentially French until the end, Francoise took naturally to the relaxed individualism that Santa Fe often inspires, developing a taste for computers, yoga, feldenkrais, and natural foods decades before they became mainstream. F was as marked by her time as she was ahead of it, keeping engaged with her far- reaching interests and pursuits and emailing friends and family about them until her death. She was politically minded to her core and uncompromising in her ideals-although as a woman who lost family in the Nazi concentration camps, she was not idealistic. She had the quiet perspicacity of a woman married to a man whose personality was as outsized as his intellect. She was a trenchant observer of human events, from the mundane to the historic, and her individualistic charm and warm wisdom will be missed greatly by friends and family. She is survived by her daughter Claire Weiner and her son-in-law Dr. Steven Weiner, of Santa Fe; her granddaughter Rebecca Ulam Weiner and Rebecca's husband Drake Bennett of New York City; and her closest friend of 60 years, Betty Lilienthal. She was preceded in death by her husband Stan, who died in1984. The family is deeply grateful to the staff at El Castillo, EGIS, and PMS Hospice, Dr. Dow Suhre, and Dr. David Gonzales. She will be honored by her immediate family at a private service and buried in Paris alongside her husband and French family. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Santa Fe Institute or the Richardson Center for Global Engagement. Arrangements are under the direction of Berardinelli Family Funeral Service 1399 Luisa Street, Santa Fe, NM 87505 (505)984-8600 Please sign our guestbook for the family at: www.berardinellifuneralhome.com
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Published by Santa Fe New Mexican on May 4, 2011.