Bernard Seraphin

Posted on Nov 26th,2012 in  Tucson


Bernhard Otto Seraphin died on November 18, 2012 exactly two weeks after celebrating his 89th birthday. He was born in Berlin, Germany and was preceded in death by his one brother, Ulrich. Surviving active combat after being drafted into the German Gebirgsjaeger (mountain troops), Bernie was drawn to study science after a memorable childhood visit to a cloud chamber in a physics lab. He pursued advanced degrees in Germany, obtaining an M.S. at Friedrich Schiller University in 1949 and a Ph.D. at Humboldt University in 1951. Emigrating to the United States in 1959, he worked at Michelson Labs in California as a civilian employee of the United States government, conducting pioneering work in material science involving semiconductors. The final phase of Seraphin’s career took him into academia. In the 1970’s, he began working with Aden Meinel at the University of Arizona’s Optical Sciences Center, solving many of the early challenges presented in the development of solar energy conversion. In addition to guiding over 20 students through the process of earning their Ph.D., Seraphin shared his passion for science internationally. He retired as Professor Emeritus from the University of Arizona in October 1989, but continued on as Acting Director of the University’s Office of International Programs. He hosted several UNESCO-sponsored workshops and meetings abroad, feeling a strong obligation to share knowledge with those less fortunate than we are. Bernie shared a great love of the outdoors with his family and friends, inspiring those unfamiliar with nature to discover its myriad delights with him, and gently prodding experienced hikers ever onward by reminding them that “he who rests, rusts.” His excitement about what was just around the next corner was contagious. When it came to any area involving hard work, discipline, dedication, and tenacity, Bernie took a personal interest, providing encouragement, assistance, support, and guidance. His positive attitude and enthusiasm nurtured many a fledgling dream or goal. Although Bernie has left, many of us enjoy triumphs, accomplishments, and expanded horizons for which he planted the seed. Surviving Bernie are his wife, Dr. Supapan Seraphin (also a professor at the University of Arizona) and four daughters, Elke, Gudrun, Maya and Eva, from previous marriages. Arrangements by ADAIR FUNERAL HOMES, Avalon Chapel.

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