Leonard O. Roellig
(May 17, 1927 - February 12, 2010)
“Variety is the spice of life” was what Len often said. It was also his approach to life and the outlook he passed on to all who crossed his path. He loved watching waves breaking on the beach, or flames jumping from the log, because they were always changing and never the same. Driven by curiosity, the life of Leonard Oscar Roellig followed the same lack of fixed pattern; each day was an opportunity to investigate the unknown, to learn something new and to finish in a new place.
Len was born in Detroit, Michigan to Oscar and Laura Roellig. He graduated from Denby High School and the University of Michigan, where he received A.B., M.S., and Ph. D. degrees in physics.
Len served at Wayne State University as physics professor, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, and University Associate Provost. From there he moved on to the City University of New York, the nation’s largest urban public university with 23 separate institutions; Len served as Vice Chancellor there for over a decade, before moving back to his first love, physics research. Len finished his professional career as professor of physics at City College, NY.
Len’s work as a professor and college administrator tells only a part of his professional story. Throughout his career he was a research scientist, affectionately known by his colleagues worldwide as “Dr. Positron.” While at Wayne State, he founded the university’s positron annihilation group. As a visiting faculty member, he founded a similar program at the University College, London. While in New York, he conducted his research at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and in Switzerland he worked at the Paul Scherer Institute for Natural and Engineering Sciences.
Len also served in the US Navy during World War II and in the US Army during the Korean War. He was very active in the Lutheran Church throughout his life. Although he lived in many cities and countries, most of his life was spent in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grosse Pointe, New York, and in Boulder, where he retired as a Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado.
While his work was his accomplishment and defined his days, his family was his contribution and defined his life. Len is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Pauline; his brother David; sons Tom (research astrophysicist with NASA), Mark (EVP and General Counsel at MassMutual Financial Group), and Paul (CEO at Bulletin News); and four grandchildren, David, Brittany, Andrew, and Corrie.
Len Roellig was a husband, a brother, a father, a grandfather, a friend and a physicist colleague. But most importantly, he was a student of life and by example he was a teacher to us all.
The Funeral Service for Leonard Roellig will be held at Atonement Lutheran Church, 685 Inca Parkway, Boulder, CO 80303, on Wednesday, February 17, 2010, with visitation at 9:00 a.m., and the funeral service at 10:00 a.m. Internment will be at St. Paul’s Cemetery, Strasburg, IL, on Friday, February 19, 2010, with the graveside service at 11:00 a.m. with Rev. Steven Becker officiating. Arrangements by Howe and Yockey Funeral Home in Strasburg.
Memorial contributions can be made to the place where Len and his family enjoyed their time: YMCA of the Rockies, 2515 Tunnel Rd., Estes Park, CO 80511 (www.YMCADonations.org).