Robert Bruno Alexander Naumann (1929 - 2014)

Norwich, VT - Robert Bruno Alexander Naumann, 85.5 years old, succumbed to Parkinson’s Disease at Hanover (N.H.) Terrace on Wednesday morning, Dec. 10, 2014. Bob was born on June 7, 1929 in Dresden, Germany, the son of Eberhard Bruno and Elsa (Haege) Naumann zu Koenigsbrueck. Given his parents’ divorce and WWII, Bob attended schools far and wide: the Browning School in New York City; the Cranbrook School and the Scots College in Sydney, Australia; the University of California in Berkeley. After his Jan.-1949 UC graduation, accented with Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi keys, Bob entered Princeton University’s graduate program in Physical Chemistry, a field, engrossing him since early boyhood. In 1953 with a Ph.D. in Chemistry, a fresh US naturalization certificate and a new ham-radio license (W2FNY) Bob chose not leave Princeton. Instead he remained for a 39-year career as the university’s only joint Professor of Chemistry and Physics. While there he taught hundreds of undergrad and graduate students, plus Albert Einstein! On an April 1, 1955 home-visit he and N.Y.U. Prof. Henry Stroke answered atomic-clock questions, long puzzling Einstein. This was to be their elder’s last lesson, for he died three weeks later. Bob’s scientific interests, especially in nuclear chemistry/spectroscopy, yielded countless professional articles and the discovery of 21 radioactive isotopes and 12 nuclear isomers. His instrumental experiments (some night-long) on a large isotope separator surely genetically echoed his forefathers’ production, since the 1800s, of typewriters, bicycles and sewing machines at their Seidel & Naumann factory in Dresden. On Sept. 16, 1961 in Princeton’s university chapel Bob had married Marina Grot Turkevich, the unscientific daughter of a chemistry colleague. Ever the traveler, but now with family in tow, Bob would quit New Jersey for all summer breaks (10+ times to Los Alamos [N.M.] National Lab alone) and sabbatical-year leaves. During the latter he researched mostly at European universities and institutes in Copenhagen, Geneva and multiply in Munich. At the last he came to its Technical University, twice as an Alexander von Humboldt Senior U.S. Scientist and in 1988 as Visiting Professor of Physics. Bob was a member and later, fellow of many US scientific societies. In 1992 Bob retired with Marina to Norwich Vt. Across the Connecticut River at Dartmouth College Bob found stimulating scholars who graciously honored him as their Adjunct Professor of Chemistry, Physics & Astronomy. In his precious down time, armed with a scientific “scribble pad,” pocket radios and Marina, Bob continued globetrotting. Three trips were literally, yet each differently, around the world. And Maui in March was Naumann’s habitual escape from New England’s mud season. This creatively energetic pace kept Bob in fine health until midsummer. Bob is survived by his Marina; daughter, Kristin Ragnhild Naumann of Boxford, Mass. and son, Andrew John Bruno Naumann with his wife, Elizabeth of Vashon Island, Wash. Four beloved grandchildren also survive: Esmé Anna Juros; Ludmilla, Maximilian Bruno and Sophie Naumann; as does Halston, his purring sidekick. A Requiem Service and Celebration of Robert Bruno Alexander’s life will be held privately at the family dacha in spring. Memorial contributions would be welcomed at VT Foodbank, 33 Parker Rd. Barre, Vt. 05641, or at a charity of one’s choice.