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In Memoriam: Henry W. Kendall

Henry W. Kendall

Media Relations Office


February 16, 1999

(508) 289-3340

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death February 15, 1999 of Honorary Trustee and Honorary Member of the Corporation Henry Way Kendall at age 72. Dr. Kendall died in a diving accident in Florida while on a National Geographic diving expedition of Wakulla Springs, the largest freshwater springs in the world.

Henry W. Kendall joined the Associates program in 1979 and was elected a Member of the WHOI Corporation in 1992 and a Trustee in 1994. In 1997 he became an Honorary Trustee and Honorary Member, and served on the Ad Hoc Ships Committee.

Henry Kendall was the Julius A. Stratton Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a 1990 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics. He was internationally recognized for his research on the internal structures of elementary particles and was one of the co-founders in 1969 of the Union of Concerned Scientists, of which he served as chairman for more than 25 years. He helped found the organization to assess and develop means to control the adverse effects of advanced nuclear technologies both on land and in space, and spent years working on nuclear reactor safety. He wrote and edited a number of books on the subject.

Kendall was born December 9, 1926 in Boston and received his B.S. degree in mathematics from Amherst College in 1950. He attended MIT, receiving a Ph.D. in nuclear and atomic physics in 1954. After graduation from MIT he was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Brookhaven National Laboratory and MIT from 1954 to 1956. He joined the faculty at Stanford University in 1956, serving for the next five years as a lecturer and assistant professor in the University's Physics Department before returning to the MIT Physics Department in 1961. He served as a Professor of Physics at MIT from 1967 to 1991, when he was named the Julius A. Stratton Professor of Physics.

Henry Kendall was a consultant to the Department of Defense from 1960 to 1971. Through the years he served on numerous committees and panels, among them the National Academy of Sciences Subcommittee on Nuclear Constants and the Academy's Port and New York Authority Steering and Review Committee. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and The Arms Control Association, served on the Energy Study Planning Committee of the American Physical Society, and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Union of Concerned Scientists since 1973. He was a Fellow of the American of Academy of Arts and Sciences (1982), American Physical Society (1985), American Association for the Advancement of Science (1988) and the National Academy of Sciences (1992). Kendall was the recipient of numerous awards, including the 1976 Public Service Award from the Federation of American Scientists, the Leo Szilard Award from the American Physical Society in 1981, the Bertrand Russell Society Award in 1982, and the W.K.H. Panofsky Prize from the American Physical Society in 1989. In 1990 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with fellow MIT professor Jerome I. Friedman and Richard E. Taylor of Stanford University. The trio was recognized for research conducted between 1967 and 1973 at the Stanford Linear Accelerator, which revolutionized particle physics by providing the first experimental evidence for sub-nuclear particles called quarks. His recent awards include the Environmental Leadership Award in 1991 from Tufts University's Lincoln Filene Center, the Citizen Activist Award in 1995, and the Nicholson Medal in 1998.

Henry W. Kendall's family has established a fund to honor the memory of the late physics professor and Nobel Laureate, who died on Feb. 15 whlle scuba diving in Florida. Donations may be mailed to: The Henry Kendall Memorial Fund/Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Physics, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 6-109, Cambridge, MA 02139, Attention: Isabel Cunha-Vasconcelos.

People interested in attending or playing a role in a fall symposium celebrating the life of Professor Kendall may contact Ms. Cunha-Vasconcelos in the Department of Physics. They will be contacted when a date, site and time have been established.

Originally published: February 16, 1999