A Tribute to an amazing grandfather and physicist
The passing of my grandfather this week has made me stop and ponder the notion of family. I may not always tell the people in my life just how important they are to me or the remarkable ways in which they have influenced me or changed the course of my life, but I hope they know. I want to make a better effort to talk to my family more and see them whenever I can, because I realize we are not going to be here forever and a tomorrow does not always exist for everyone.
My grandfather was an amazing and fascinating person. I have often thought of him while walking through the streets of Oxford or attending lectures, as he would have loved the intellectual discourse here. He was an extraordinarily intelligent physicist, with degrees from Cornell University, and although I didn’t always understand his version of “kinematic and relativity story time,” I enjoyed listening to his passion for science. I remember taking my first physics course in high school and finally trying to connect some of the dots that I had heard from him. When teaching students about patents one year, my father informed me of my grandfather’s patents and I proudly brought them into my classroom to share with my students. Whenever Albert Einstein was mentioned, my dad would remind me of his correspondence with Grandpa Jimmie. One of the last times I saw my grandfather, I interviewed him and recorded some of his stories. I cannot wait to be back home and read through his responses. Thank you Sonja Killian for those binders – I will be sure to share it with you when I return home.
My dad has not always been a very sentimental person, but his eyes have always twinkled with pride and admiration when he talks about his own dad. My dad loves puzzles and trivia – this is a passion I believe he got from his dad and has passed to me as well. From math puzzles to 4D chess and an array of mathematical shapes produced in cardboard (equations written and all), my grandfather instilled a passion for learning within me. I hope he knew how much he made me want to learn or how incredibly proud I am to be his granddaughter. Although Jimmie Wray Killian is no longer on this Earth, his passion for knowledge and learning live on through his family.