Our dear colleague and friend David Fossan died July 27, 2003 of a heart attack while swimming at Fire Island.
David has been a member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy since 1965. He was a founder of the experimental nuclear physics at Stony Brook, and a major force in creating the Nuclear Structure Laboratory in the late 1960's. This group helped establish Stony Brook's world front-rank reputation in physics. He was a leader in investigating the properties of nuclei in exteme conditions of high spin and deformation. His recent research on pairs of nuclei that are mirror images of one another gave important new insights on the nature of the fundamental nuclear force. In recognition for his outstanding research career, he won the inaugural Chancellor's award for excellence in research and scholarly activity in 2002. He often served as advisor to national laboratories, and held visiting appointments in this country and abroad. He was a fellow of the American Physical Society, and served on the executive committee of its Division of Nuclear Physics
David was a model citizen of the university and the department. He trained over 20 graduate students who now populate the leading universities and laboratories of the world. He taught nearly every course in the department's syllabus. He cheerfully shouldered the responsibility for many of the introductory courses, all of which are tremendous challenges and require great effort. He served the department in many capacities, including as graduate admissions chair for several recent years. In all that he did, Dave went out of his way to offer an encouraging word, and to go the extra mile for his students, his colleagues, and his friends. In his early days at Stony Brook he was the star of the departmental basketball team, and he remained an avid tennis player throughout his life.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to Ann and to the Fossan daughters Jennifer, Kirsten and Stephanie. We mourn David's sudden death, and will miss him as a colleague, friend and inspiration.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to The Steeple Fund at the Setauket Presbyterian Church, 5 Caroline Ave., Setauket, NY, 11733; or St. Olaf College, in memory of David Fossan, 1520 St. Olaf Ave., Northfield, Minn., 55057, sent to the attention of John Lygre. A memorial service was held on Saturday August 16.
Let me die working,
Still tackling plans unfinished, tasks undone,
Clean to its end, swift may the race be run.
No laggard steps, no faltering or shirking,
Let me die working.
Let me die thinking.
Let me fare forth still with open mind,
Fresh secrets to unfold, new truths to find.
My soul undimmed, alert, no question blinking,
Let me die thinking.
Let me die giving,
The substance of life for life's enriching.
Time, things and self on heaven converging,
No selfish thought -loving, redeeming, living;
Let me die giving!
--- Samuel Hall Young
(Presbyterian Reverend in Alaska around 1900)
(Contributed by Walter Kutschera)
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last modified October 20, 2003