School 09

Lowell R. Doherty

March 12, 1930 ~ March 20, 2021 (age 91)


Lowell R. Doherty, age 91, died March 20, 2021 in Santa Fe, NM, living the last several years of his life with Waldenstrom’s Disease, Myasthenia Gravis and heart problems.  He was born the only child of Barbara and Ralph Doherty in San Diego, CA where his mother instilled in him her love of the night skies.  He ultimately spent his life exploring the universe, retiring as Professor Emeritus of Astronomy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  As he liked to say, his professional life covered the era of Sputnik to the Hubbel Space Telescope.

He graduated from Hoover High School in San Diego, where he was class valedictorian, going on to UCLA where he was one of the university’s first Physics-Astronomy graduates.  There he graduated with high honors and was awarded a Phi Beta Kappa key.  He then received his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor where he was a University Fellow, a NSF Pre-Doctoral Fellow and elected to Sigma XI.  He was a Lecturer and Research Fellow in Astronomy at Harvard University and ultimately a Professor of Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he served as department chair for several years.  He was also a Visiting Professor in Astronomy at the University of Hawaii-Manoa one year.

His career was focused on teaching university classes and doing astronomical research. Through the Space Astronomy Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin he was involved with NASA grants and did research involving cameras on board the X-15 airplane, photographing stars high above the earth’s obscuring atmosphere.  Other work involved interpretation of data from the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory and the Hubbel Space Telescope.  He was elected a Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science and was a member of the American Astronomical Society, International Astronomical Union and the Royal Astronomical Society.

Lowell was always curious.  He loved to travel, he loved to hike, he loved playing tennis, and he loved life. One of the high points of his sporting life was hitting a hole-in-one the first time he played golf with his father-in-law.  He loved the outdoors and enjoyed spending time with his wife and family at their rustic cabin in Black Earth, WI,

After moving to Santa Fe in retirement, he volunteered for many years in Collections at the Museum of International Folk Art.  He was also appointed by former Governor Gary Johnson as a trustee of the NM Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque.

Lowell was a student, a teacher, a friend, a confidant and a loving husband, father and grandfather.  He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Rosalind, two sons, Keith (Jacqueline May) and Paul, four grandchildren, Alexandra, Catherine, James and Reid and sister-in-law Annette Olson.  The family suggests that any gift memorials be made to a charity of one’s choice.  Two of his favorites were the Museum of International Folk Art, c/o Museum of New Mexico Foundation, Box 2065, Santa Fe, NM 87504-2065 and the Raymond L. Doherty Memorial Fund for Astronomy, c/o University of Wisconsin Foundation, 1848 University Ave., Madison, WI 53726.

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