Bob, a professor of physics and electrical engineering for nearly 50 years at the University of Southern California, was happily immersed most of his life in advancing the fields of optics and quantum electronics, having made an early career mark in 1960 with “Q-switching,” an invention that supercharged the usefulness of the laser by boosting its power a millionfold.

Bob’s last scientific paper, published shortly before his 88th birthday, was titled like his many others in a language that relatively few can appreciate: “Azimuthally polarized hollow beams in free space: Exact vector solutions to Maxwell’s equations.”

Bob attended public schools growing up in Detroit, was class valedictorian at Princeton, and then a Rhodes scholar before landing a job at Hughes Aircraft Co. and a simultaneous postdoc at nearby Caltech. There he met the celebrated physicist Richard Feynman *42, who became a friend and mentor and was best man at Bob’s second wedding in 1985.

Bob died Jan. 20, 2021, of complications of COVID-19 in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 90.

He is survived by his wife, Theresia de Vroom; their son, William; three children from his first marriage, Ben, Margaret, and Tom; and grandchildren Sutter, Camryn, Grace, and Evan. His classmates see that our valedictorian lived up to his promise. All good wishes to his family.

Undergraduate Class of 1952