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C. Harvey Palmer

In Memoriam: C. Harvey Palmer, 1919-2019

August 16, 2019

C. Harvey Palmer, Jr., OSA Fellow and distinguished physicist, passed away on 16 August 2019 at the age of 99.  Palmer was a professor emeritus of electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, specializing in optics. He was made an OSA Fellow in 1967 and became an OSA member in 1950.  

Palmer was born on 8 December 1919 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, to Charles Harvey and Grace Hambleton (Ober) Palmer. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in physics from Harvard University in 1941 (magna cum laude), a Master of Arts in physics in 1946 from Harvard, and a Doctorate in physics from Johns Hopkins University in 1951. While pursuing his master’s degree, Palmer worked as a staff member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Radiation Laboratory, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and then went into academia as an assistant professor and associate profession of physics at Bucknell University.  Palmer moved to Baltimore, Maryland in 1954 and began his career at Johns Hopkins University. He held various positions in the electrical engineering department at Johns Hopkins over the course of his tenure including assistant professor, associate professor, professor and ultimately professor emeritus (1992).  

Palmer was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Physical Society, New York Academy of Sciences, and Sigma Xi. He authored numerous papers, articles, presentations, and was most known for his book, Optics: Experiments and Demonstrations, published by The Johns Hopkins University Press.  Palmer was married to Elizabeth M. Palmer for sixty years and they enjoyed many adventures together including hiking Kilimanjaro in 1981 and raising their family. Palmer was a devoted father, brother, and grandfather.

OSA and the scientific community mourns the loss of C. Harvey Palmer.


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