Obituary: Walter F. Huebner Feb. 22, 1928 – June 1, 2021

WALTER F. HUEBNER Feb. 22, 1928 – June 1, 2021

Walter F. Huebner, renowned astrophysicist and lifelong traveler, passed away peacefully at his home in Norman, Oklahoma, June 1, 2021, at the age of 93, surrounded by his family. 

He was born in New York City, February 22, 1928, to Margaretha (Koch) and Richard Huebner.

Walter spent his childhood in Franzendorf near Reichenberg in what was then the Czech Republic. In 1947, at the age of 19, he emigrated back to the United States. He enrolled in Dobbs Ferry High School and continued on to Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute where he developed his passion for physics.  Walter went on to Yale University where he received his PhD in Physics. 

At Yale, he worked with well-known physicist, Professor Breit, who arranged for him to work at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory (later know as Los Alamos National Laboratory). He worked at Los Alamos from 1957 to 1987 in various capacities from staff scientist to group leader. In 1987, he moved to San Antonio, Texas, and worked at South West Research Institute as an institute scientist until 2018.

While Walter was at Yale, he met Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Putnam, the love of life and his wife of 64 years. Walter and Betty shared four children, whom they raised primarily in Los Alamos.

While Walter worked tirelessly as a well-known astrophysicist, at the Los Alamos Lab and at South West Research Institute, he was President of the Permanent Monitoring Panel for Cosmic Objects at international seminars on Nuclear War and Planetary Emergencies, a visiting scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, at NASA, and at the Max Planck Institute. He had a Fulbright Fellowship and was a participant in Occupation Dominic at Christmas Island.

He authored and edited multiple books on comets and asteroids. His efforts and research are considered great accomplishments to both the scientific community and his family.

Walter was known not only for his invaluable scientific work, but also for his kind, gentle and generous nature. He had a wonderful sense of humor and was loved by all who knew him.

Walter is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Huebner; his children, Anne Rice and her husband Tom Edwards, Pieter Huebner and his wife Sheila, Elisabeth ‘Lisa’ Huebner, and Richard Huebner and his wife Robin; his grandchildren, Silvio, Kristen, Emil, Justin and Petra; and one great grandchild, Carter.

No service arrangements have been made at this time.

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