In memory: Astronomer Walter Steiger

March 23rd, 2011  |  by  |  Published in People

Walter Steiger face shot

Professor Emeritus of Astronomy Walter Richard Steiger (MS ’50 Mānoa), died Feb. 6, 2011, at age 87 in Hilo. Called the grandfather of modern astronomy in Hawaiʻi, he helped build the astronomy research program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, establishing an interim telescope at Makapuʻu Point on Oʻahu and permanent facility on Haleakalā on Maui to conduct solar astronomy.

Born in Proctor, Colo., Steiger served in the Army during World War II, earned a BS in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and PhD in physics from the University of Cincinnati.

After retiring as professor and chair of the UH Mānoa Department of Physics and Astronomy, he served as Science Center manager at Bishop Museum, University of Hawaiʻi regent, site manager of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory and interim director of ʻImiloa Astronomy Center at UH Hilo. He continued serving as a lecture at UH Hilo.

Read his Origins of Astronomy in Hawaiʻi on the Institute for Astronomy website.

Steiger lived in Hilo with his wife Betty. They had a son, Keith Steiger of Honolulu; daughter, Kathi Marciniak of Kailua-Kona; stepson, Dean Jones of Laupāhoehoe; stepdaughters, Karen Jones of Honolulu and Cathy Walsh of Salt Lake City; 13 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

Read or add to the Walter Steiger tribute page.

The Walter and Betty Steiger Physics and Astronomy Scholarship was established at the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation. To make a memorial gift, designate “in memory of Dr. Steiger” and indicate “scholarship fund” or “ʻImiloa” in the special instructions box at the UH Foundation site.

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