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Erich W Vogt, the Canadian nuclear physicist and UBC professor who helped found Canada’s national nuclear and particle physics lab and Science World BC, passed away on February 19, 2014.
He was the recipient of the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
“As one of the pioneering founders of the lab, Erich was a huge part of the TRIUMF family as well as that of UBC and the broader physics community around the world,” said Jim Hanlon, head of TRIUMF’s Business and Administration Division, in a statement.
“He contributed to each and every person he met with warmth, advice, and a wry joke or story that put everything into perspective. I expect that many people will be affected by this loss and will want to pause and reflect on the ways that Erich touched their lives.”
Vogt was born in Steinbach, Manitoba on November 12, 1929 and received academic degrees at the University of Manitoba and Princeton University. From 1956 to 1965, he was on the staff of the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratory as a theoretical physicist where he published a large number of papers on nuclear reactions and was heavily involved in the creation of the first CANDU reactors for Canada.
In 1965, Vogt became a professor at the University of British Columbia, and was a founder and one of the prime movers behind the TRIUMF project — Canada’s National Meson Sciences Research Facility located on the University’s Vancouver campus. From 1975 until 1981, he served as Vice President, Faculty and Student Affairs at UBC. In 2006 he was appointed to the Order of British Columbia and in the same year received the UBC Faculty of Science Achievement Award for Teaching. He continued to teach first year physics until his 80th birthday in 2009, and in 45 years taught more than 5,000 students.
Vogt was president of the Canadian Association of Physicists from 1970 to 71, earning the 1988 CAP Medal for Achievement in Physics. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 1977, the Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Medal, and the Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. In 1978, Vogt was appointed as the first Chairman of the Science Council of British Columbia, a position which he held until 1980.
The impact of your support
The Erich Vogt First Year Student Research Experience Endowment gives outstanding first year students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working on a summer research project. These internships will help students apply their knowledge, and may ignite a passion for physics discovery. This award honours Dr. Erich Vogt (1929-2014), one of the most distinguished Canadian nuclear physicists of his generation.
Dr. Vogt worked tirelessly for over 40 years to share the extraordinary wonders of physics with his students. Your support of this fund honours him, and helps inspire a new generation.
Dr. Erich Vogt joined UBC’s Department of Physics and Astronomy in 1965. As the founding Director of TRIUMF, Dr. Vogt was a pioneer in the global physics community. In addition to his scientific contributions, Dr. Vogt was profoundly dedicated to his students. Even after his official retirement in 1994, he continued to teach first-year physics until 2009. On ratemyprofessors.com, his reviews are a testament to his gift for teaching. One student says, “Honours physics isn't an easy program, but with Dr. Vogt, it sure is a fun one. It is a great pleasure to have a professor that is both good at teaching and truly passionate about his subject. Mind-blowing and wacky antics are a day-to-day occurrence.”
The Erich Vogt First Year Student Research Experience Endowment reflects Dr. Vogt’s passion for physics and his commitment to young aspiring scientists This award will, in perpetuity, honour his legacy by offering first-year physics students hands-on learning, valuable work experience and the opportunity to contribute to scientific knowledge.
Your donation to this fund will honour Dr. Vogt’s contributions to UBC, to science, and to his students, and will continue his life’s work of introducing first-year students to the power and wonder of physics.
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I first met Erich when I was a teenager in the 1960's at the home of my sister Lois in West Vancouver. Erich and Barbara were visiting and my sister and I were entertaining the company with our piano playing prowess (which was not all that remarkable)......
Erich then sat down at the baby grand and regaled us with the Moonlight Sonata. We were astounded because we understood that he was not a piano player. We thought he was a musical genius!
Recently I was favored with a wedge of Erich's Christmas cake, rich with nuts, fruit and brandy. I was pleased to have Erich visit - the drive from his house to Surrey was about an hour - on two occasions with information about the Greenfield family history. If not for Erich, "The Moose Jaw Saga", my family's history would not have existed, and the story lost in the mists of time.
Erich's family and friends have had to say goodbye to a great man but we have so much to remember.
Having had the good fortune to have known Erich for almost 50 years, it’s hard to know where to begin – or stop – and following the other tributes, to say anything fresh. But there are a couple of areas where I have particular reason to be grateful to him, and which in any case deserve emphasis.
Firstly, Erich was probably the critical person in getting the TRIUMF project funded in the first place (a minor consequence of this being my staying on in Canada). While the nuclear physicists at the local universities had the ambition for a major project and sufficient technical expertise to make a proposal credible, Erich, with his previous experience at Chalk River, brought the political skills and close knowledge of the eastern establishment, both scientific and governmental, that were crucial to success. At the beginning, in the absence of John Warren on a year’s sabbatical, he masterminded the two scientific proposals – the first in late 1965 for study money, and then a fuller one a year later for complete funding - and followed through by leading the funding campaign, crowned by success in early 1968.
Nine years later, while Chairman of the TRIUMF Board of Management, he became a strong supporter of Reg Richardson’s and my group’s studies of a kaon factory - an extension of TRIUMF with Nobel Prize potential. When he became Director in 1981 this evolved into the Kaon-Antiproton-Otherhadron-Neutrino Factory (KAON) project and became one of his principal aims for the lab. Although by 1991 KAON had gained the support of the US DOE-NSF's Feshbach Committee over rival US proposals, promises of one-third of the $708 million cost each from the Federal and Provincial governments, and offers of significant financial contributions from European countries, sadly these were insufficient to gain final approval. Another example of what Erich termed Canada’s “bronze-medal mentality”. Throughout this long campaign, Erich was the tireless and ever-persuasive champion of the cause. At the same time, he was careful to support the development of TISOL and studies of an eventual radioactive ion beam accelerator (ISAC), ensuring that TRIUMF was left with a fall-back project.
A great man, greatly missed.
Thank you, Erich!
Erich Vogt Memorial Tribute:
On behalf of my sister, my brothers and our extended families, I welcome you here this afternoon.
One of my father’s gifts was in bringing people together. He would therefore have been tremendously pleased by your joining us here this afternoon.
We have planned a simple celebration. You will hear four speakers and a few remembrances, and when last words are spoken, we invite you all to stay and share a glass of wine with friends, colleagues and family.
As many of you know, my father was a scientist who lived life large, and with purpose. He became a scientist because, as a small boy, standing on a wide prairie, he looked skyward at the geese flying overhead….with wonder. He was not a religious man. But the world was a place of wonder for him.
Our first speaker is one of Dad’s colleagues, Ewart Blackmore, who is a senior research scientist and one of the founding members of Triumf….he’s also someone who worked with Dad for over 40 years. Ewart knows something about Big Science and Dad’s role at Triumf and in the science community.
As a grandfather, Dad played an influential role with his 16 grandchildren. He was always happiest in front of a classroom….or when he was showing his world to his grandchildren. His grandson Eric, the fish whisperer, has some remembrances to share.
As a father, Dad taught us that this was a world to be savoured…. when we were young, he carried us high on his shoulders through the wilds of Algonquin Park and skated with us on the frozen Ottawa river.
When he was not teaching, he was in the mountains. I can’t count the number of times we took the switchbacks to Garibaldi Lake, or walked the trails in Manning Park or the North Shore mountains…..my sister, as a teenager (with better things to do) usually complaining that she had a brain tumour or some other life threatening condition….or one of my brothers (with an abundance of self-sufficiency genes), confidently striding off in the wrong direction to be lost for hours… but our dad, entirely oblivious to such distractions.
My brother David, the star gazer, will tell you more.
My father was one of six brothers. He was the 2nd oldest. His brother Peter was the 2nd youngest. Peter knew the young man on the front page of the pamphlet in your hands.
I am also reminded of this. In his early 70s, when Dad was in hospital following a heart valve replacement, two doctors came into his room to determine if he had suffered any cognitive loss as a result of the surgery. Mom, standing in the hall, overheard one of them ask dad to spell “world”…WORLD…and without missing a beat, dad spelt “world”…WHIRLED. One of the doctors then turned to the other and said that Dr. Vogt had taught him physics at UBC, and that he could lose half of his brain function and still be smarter than both of them put together.
We have received many tributes for Dad. I want now to share only two which represent Dad’s two communities, town and gown. From the science and academic community, Haig Farris wrote a long remembrance. Haig is a venture capital pioneer and co-founded numerous high profile technology companies. He had deep Kaon, UBC, Science Council and Science World connections with Dad, and there was great mutual respect. His tribute reads in part as follows:
“High energy physics was Erich. He was a prairie born cyclotron from birth to death. His high energy and ability to focus on and smash targets foolish enough to be in his path defined his world . He re-defined the phrase "whirling dervish". It wouldn't surprise me if the scientists determined he was the missing quark.
Erich was a scientist's scientist or more aptly a physicist's physicist. Physicists have that enviable ability to relish problems… particularly ones that seemingly have no solution. The study of physics creates a mindset of optimism that Erich personified more than anyone I have known.
He took his high energy and optimism with him in everything he did and we are all the better for it.”
The second remembrance is from Christopher Gaze, the artistic director of Bard on the Beach. Dad’s world was also full of poetry. Into his 80s Dad could still recite, by heart, large tracks of Wordsworth and Shakespeare, among others. Dad enjoyed a friendship with Christopher Gaze, who was unable to be here this afternoon but sent this remembrance:
”As soon as I became a member of our luncheon group, The Round Table, Erich became a friend. He reached out to me - he relentlessly promoted Bard, he personally supported us generously and he celebrated his 80th Birthday at Bard with 80 friends and family in our marquee and then we all joined him at the show.
We always received his annual Christmas cake which I shall miss greatly - it was traditional and delicious!
That he was a great man there is no question. A beautiful mind that soared above and beyond most of the rest of us - his academic life was connected to Einstein, Hawkins and a litany of other immortals.”
Thank you Christopher.
And so. A fortunate life, and a life well lived. For dad, that small boy on the prairie, the pursuit of scientific research was a pure and necessary joy. He lived his life with curiosity, and with wonder. His excellence as a scientist, a teacher, a parent and a grandparent was that he never lost that sense of wonder, and strove always to share it with others.
That closes the speaking portion of our afternoon. However, we would be very pleased if you would all join us now for a glass of wine and to share the camaraderie that was our father.
Thank you for coming.
Erich Vogt Memorial Tribute:
It is hard to follow a wonderful talk like the one just given by David. I will try my best.
Erich was a giant in my mind, bigger than life! I never really knew him as a child as he was already entering college when I was starting my elementary school. I was 11 years old when we visited Erich and Barbara in Princeton and realized that he was working with very important people. The war just ended seven years before that and even as a child I was aware of the importance of atomic energy. It had in fact ended the Second World War. Now my brother was trying to use atomic energy in more humanitarian pursuits. We drove by Dr. Einstein’s home and saw Dr. Einstein out on his yard and he waved at my brother. You can only imagine how impressive that was to a young boy.
At age 15, I visited Erich and Barbara in Deep River, Ontario. When I arrived late in the evening, Erich woke up all of his three children at that time and herded them down the staircase with sleepy eyes and all wearing their pajamas so they could meet “Uncle Peter.” Needless to say, Barbara was not happy about the interruption of their sleep and she let him know that. Barbara could be very firm with Erich, because she needed to be. While I was on that visit at the age of 15, I did note Erich’s deep love for Barbara and his children. He took every chance possible to take them on nature-walks, teach them about the wonders of the world, and of the benefits of physical pursuits versus sitting at home and watching television.
Visiting Erich and his family in Vancouver was always such a joy. He treated us well and would always share new adventures with us, such as hiking, exploring, and seeing the wonders of his world. This included trips to his Triumf project. Again, Erich was such a giant in my mind. I was standing in the foyer of his home when he was leaving to meet Prime Minister Trudeau to take him on a tour of a power plant or the Triumf project. It was a warm summer day and he was leaving wearing cut-off shorts that had a torn pocket at the back, a tee shirt, and flip-flop shoes. Barbara intercepted him at the door, took him by the tee shirt, and said, “Erich Vogt, where are you going dressed like that!!!” “You are not going to see the Prime Minister of Canada dressed like that!” Erich’s reply was “Barbara, the Prime Minister is not coming to see how I am dressed, he is coming to see what I know!” I am sure all of you in the audience will realize who won that argument. Erich went upstairs, changed into proper clothes, and then left to meet the Prime Minister for his tour.
Erich always felt that I had aimed low in my pursuit of a medical degree. He couldn’t stand anyone that wasn’t aiming for a PhD. This is further reinforced by the fact that one of the requirements of my pre-med education was to take Physics 101. I took the course and proceeded to fail it. As luck would have it, I was walking down the campus of the University of Manitoba that summer with Erich when we happened upon Dr. Kelly who had taught both of us Physics 101. Dr. Kelly took one look at Erich and a close look at me and exclaimed, “This is a biological impossibility”! Erich got the greatest joy out of that and you can imagine how I felt.
It took about 40 years for me to get a small amount of revenge. It happened at the reception following Barbara’s memorial service when we were at the home of Lisa and her husband, Chris. Erich was sitting on the couch wearing a blue blazer, a tie, and his gray slacks, and it was evident what he had been eating as a good portion of it was on the front of his jacket and tie, as it frequently would happen. I think we would all agree that Erich didn’t pay much attention to his attire most of the time. I was standing visiting with the wife of one of Erich’s colleagues and she asked me what my relationship was to Erich. I was wearing an Armani suit with a nice tie and always have tried to dress up to the expectations of my profession as a plastic surgeon. She called Erich to his feet and he came standing next to us and she said, “Are you indeed Peter’s brother?” He said “yes” and she said, “This is a biological impossibility”!
Numbers were always so important to Erich. All of us had to listen to the number of pies that he had baked; the number of tomatoes that he had produced in his garden; the number of fruitcakes that he had baked and sent at Christmas time. I would like to make a confession today that I was the annual recipient of one of Erich’s 6” x 6” fruit pies. Years ago I took one of these fruit pies and placed it in the bottom of a floral arrangement and set it at the door of two gay friends of ours who were having an annual Christmas party. I didn’t realize that even though I snuck up to their door that they had seen me. One year later at the same party, one of the men who was an artist had taken the fruitcake and had developed a beautiful Lucite case with a Lucite stand inside that bore the fruitcake with a brass placard that stated, “Fruitcake.” Of course, this created an uproar at the party and everybody had a good laugh about it. My wife and I took it home and my wife being the interior designer that she was, took it to her studio and had the Lucite case electrified and made a lamp out of it with a very large, black shade over the top of the Lucite case. We then presented this to our gay couple at the next annual party. Not to be outdone, the artist friend made the lamp into a torchiere lamp that is approximately 5’ high and still sits in his home to this day. This created such a stir that this exchange of Erich’s fruitcake actually had a story written about it that appeared in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine. I never had the courage to reveal this story to my brother.
Our first brother died on March 31, 1997. It was a sad and untimely death. At the reception in the church basement following the funeral, Erich called over to me, “Well Peter, one down, five to go”! Again, numbers were so important to Erich throughout his life. Following our brother’s death, Erich and I began to connect as adults. Erich had a twin brother, Art, who was physically and mentally challenged and required care. Along with the considerable care of the Winnipeg family, we were able to help financially and also, to a lesser degree, physically to care for Art for the remainder of his life. His love for his brothers was extended further when he received a knock on his door from a younger brother who had dealt with drug addiction all of his life. Erich not only took him in and helped him financially but offered him the lower level of his home for the remainder of his life. As our younger brother went through one-after-another health problem, Erich would visit him in the hospital virtually every day. He would remind me on our weekly calls of the number of times that he had driven down to Vancouver General Hospital to visit John. This was after he had stopped his teaching assignments at the University of
British Columbia and I think to some degree this gave him a feeling of relevance. It certainly gave us all a feeling of his continued relevance. Erich had an incredible amount of energy, stamina, interest, and wonder of the world around him. He would visit his family members in the State of Washington, Ontario, Minnesota, and would travel to all parts of the world to visit colleagues and friends that he had nurtured over the years. We talked every week for years. He seemed to have accepted my mediocrity of only having achieved an M.D. level of training. Also, after our conversations had ended, he would often slip and say, “Peter, I love you”!
Erich indeed led a relevant and a fortunate life. He chose a wonderful mate, had five wonderful robust children and their mates, and sixteen grandchildren, all of whom he loved tremendously. In the last few years of life, he worked hard to write a genealogical history for the benefit of all of his children. This was a massive work, but one that he appeared to enjoy immensely. He also tried to write to the end, a brief history of Triumf as he understood it. He also had a magnificent career and, like I, never felt that he had to work.
To some, Erich was an acquired taste, but to me he was a loving brother, a generous friend, and someone who made a difference.
Erich, since you were so intrigued by numbers, it is now five down and one to go. Also, since you were so competitive and wanted to live longer than our Father, you may feel you lost. I know you are listening and what I want you to hear is “I lost; I lost a brother who I loved and admired and whose memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
Hello everyone, thank you all very much for coming here.
As grandpa used to say, I am little Eric.
I was chosen to speak on behalf of the grandchildren today because I am the primary individual contributor to the total tonnage of Erich Vogt’s offspring. Yes, just like with his tomatoes and his Christmas cakes, grandpa kept track of the total weight of his progeny – which is currently hovering around one and three quarter tons. Not only was this something that he loved to boast about, but he never wasted an opportunity to add to it. Frequently reminding the grandchildren of who had consumed the most farmer’s sausage or who had eaten the greatest number of helpings at a family dinner.
I was initially reluctant to speak today as I feared that I could never adequately reflect on such an amazing, influential and inspiring man. But then I started thinking about Grandpa, and if there is one thing that he taught me it is that it’s ok to make a fool of yourself sometimes. I mean this in a good way and to my family, or to anyone else who has visited a Zoo with Erich, I encourage you to think about how he loved to speak to the baboons. It also dawned on me that it really doesn’t matter what I say, because if Grandpa were here he would have been proud. He was incredibly proud of all of his grandchildren. That is just the way he was. His love for all of us was equal, unbiased and unconditional.
Grandpa was also tremendously supportive. He encouraged us to take on new challenges and to work to our full potential. But more than anything he encouraged us to be who we are, to focus our energy on the things we are most passionate about. And though he often told us this, he did not have to. For his life and his story were the perfect examples of what could be achieved with the right amount of passion, determination and hard work.
There is no question that Erich had a gifted mind and I feel that we are all truly fortunate to have grown up around such man. It seemed like Grandpa knew more than a little bit about almost everything, and he frequently surprised me with this knowledge. To his grandchildren this was somewhat like having a walking, talking encyclopedia to rely on. But what was more meaningful was that he was able to talk, in depth, to each and every one of us about the things we are most passionate about. Considering how many of us there are, and how diverse our interests are, this is exceptionally impressive and something I am very thankful for.
While all of us have very different interests and are headed in many different directions, there are also many things that we have in common. Most apparent I believe is our sense of humor. And for that we must thank Grandpa as he always found ways to make us laugh. But with our sense of humor we also developed patience, as we have all heard his jokes and limericks countless times.
The effects that both my Grandpa Erich and Grandma Barbara had on their grandchildren was tremendous and is readily apparent to a thoughtful eye. For instance, take:
• Naomi’s energy on the stage,
• Deborah’s passion for poetry
• Samuel’s goofy smile,
• Parker’s appreciation of music
• Nics charm and charisma
• Matt’s unique sense of humour
• Alex’s powerful gas
• Madeleine's commitment and determination,
• Patrick’s enormous sense of family,
• Gabrielle’s love for all things German
• Charlotte, well she is a perfect reflection of grandma,
• Peter’s thirst for knowledge,
• Megan’s appetite for tomatoes
• Kennedy’s love of history
• Bri, well she owes her life to grandpa, for he saved her from drowning in Tofino.
• And finally, my insatiable appetite for Costco hotdogs.
Thus, to my siblings, my cousins, and all of my family. When you are down, when you miss Grandpa, or Grandma, I encourage all of you to look around. Seek comfort in knowing that each and every one of us carries a different piece of their spirit and that they will be with us as for long as we are all together.
Erich Vogt Memorial Tribute:
Thank you all for being here today for this celebration of an exceptionally unique, brilliant, and loving man. My siblings Susan, Lisa, Jon and Robert have honoured me with sharing a few words on their behalf.
Our father would have been the first person to agree that he had a wonderfully fortunate life. This isn’t to say that he was lucky, although he would agree with that as well. It is more that wonderful fortune was something that he very purposefully pursued in life. My thoughts today will address this facet of his nature.
Our father was fiercely proud of his prairie immigrant origin. He considered it his greatest blessing. As with his beloved tomatoes, he believed in fertile soil and good seed stock, both of which were abundant in tiny Steinbach, Manitoba. His sense of the natural and cultural inspiration available in his home village verged on the magical.
In his diaries, I found a long letter he wrote to himself on the occasion of his sixteenth birthday, right at the end of WWII, where he assessed his life progress so far and admonished himself to work even harder. In this letter he set a remarkably simple formula for the rest of his life: to be driven by wonder. Specifically the wonder within nature, music and poetry.
He nourished his wonder in nature by coming to BC and embarking on countless mountain hikes, driving holidays in the Rockies, and excursions in the rainforests and beaches of Tofino. He nourished his wonder in music by becoming an expert on the lives and works of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Bach and others. And he nourished his wonder in poetry within the mathematics, symmetry and abstractions of nuclear physics.
That focus on wonder almost certainly brought him his first overwhelming fortune in life: our mother. Why else would a refined girl from River Heights in Winnipeg agree to go out with a country boy? They shared a love of intellect, culture, travel and children. It was a fortuitous match.
Our mother was also our father’s ticket out. He knew his world was beyond Manitoba, and knew he would need our mother’s refinement and partnership to get where he wanted to go. My elder sisters were born in Princeton, NJ, I was born in Birmingham, England, and my younger brothers were born in Deep River, Ontario, all before we eventually came to Vancouver. As children we couldn’t realize how unusually cosmopolitan our lives were with international visitors, knights, ladies, and laureates being regular visitors to our home.
For such an exuberant and extroverted individual, our father was also an intensely rational and private man. And yet he was also capable of acts of staggering endearment. Just one example, which he did every morning at precisely 7:00 am outside my bedroom door, was to shout at the top of his lungs, “Wake up, you lazy bugger!” It brings tears to my eyes even now…
One day, when I was an undergraduate, and he was a UBC Vice President, he happened to cycle by in his characteristically slightly-rumpled attire, whistling the signature tune from Don Giovanni. He didn’t notice me, and the classmate I was walking with, who didn’t know him, spontaneously commented, “There goes a happy janitor!” He was indeed an innately happy and good-natured man.
A defining example of his unique humour from this same period was when he wanted to take a large group of visiting Chinese dignitaries on his favourite hike to Garibaldi Lake. Solely for this event, he took the time out from his already hectic schedule to get a bus driver’s license, driving them all to Whistler entirely for the delight of demonstrating to his amazed communist visitors that Canada was a worker’s paradise, where a university vice president could also be a bus driver, and vice versa.
One of our father’s favourite movies was a 1998 Danish film called, “The Celebration”, where a family gathers to honour their patriarch’s birthday and the entire event implodes as the eldest son reveals the patriarch’s chronic abuses. Such dark human comedy appealed to the rich, low-German part of our father’s humour.
I can’t offer similar revelations at this celebration of our patriarch. He loved us immensely. However, he did spend even more time with his other beloved family at TRIUMF. Anyone who knows Erich will remember his scathing opinions of politicians, bureaucrats, etc, but I never heard him utter a single unkind word about any member of his TRIUMF and Physics family. There are so many of you here - he loved you well.
And he nurtured other families through the Vancouver Institute, Science Council, Science World, the Vancouver Roundtable and organizations around the globe. While he was not religious in any way, he seemed to subscribe to the Jewish theory of creation, where order in the Universe wasn’t something to be discovered so much as created through sheer force of will and personal energy. Innumerable people and projects have benefited from the sheer productive force of his attention.
Perhaps his greatest love beyond our family was teaching first year physics. He invested enormous creativity in courting the wonder of young scientists; that same wonder that propelled him. He taught his last class only a few short years ago when he was 80. He said he wanted to quit while he still had the best teacher ratings in the department! Perhaps it wasn’t a fair contest: how many other physics teachers could say that they’d known and worked with the legends of their field, including Einstein, Bohr and Dirac?
Yes, our father was competitive about everything. In the last years of his life, while doing the research for his family history and memoir, he said often that he aimed to live longer than his own father, who died at 89.
Well, he lost that one, but he won the battle of achieving a wonderfully fortunate life. He lived large and he loved large. If knowledge were money he would have been one of the wealthiest humans to have ever lived. We his children and grandchildren are wealthy and fortunate in turn.
First Nations peoples believed that when people die they become stars, so that we can always look up to them. There is a rare, dazzling and very colourful new star in our human firmament tonight.
Erich Vogt was incredibly influential and supportive of the entire Canadian nuclear physics community, not just at TRIUMF, but nation-wide. On behalf of the Canadian Institute of Nuclear Physics, I would like to offer our heart-felt condolences to the family. Erich was truly a great man.
Erich Memorial Tribute
It is a privilege and an honour to give this tribute to Erich Vogt on behalf of his friends and colleagues at TRIUMF and UBC. Unlike Erich who was always able to give an entertaining presentation without notes, making it serious or humorous or usually both, I will read mine to make sure I cover what I want to say in a reasonable time.
I first met Erich in 1963 when I was a summer student working in the nuclear physics group at Chalk River and Erich was by then a highly respected theoretical nuclear physicist. I would see him wandering the halls near my office in a bright plaid shirt and he seemed unapproachable to me because of his lofty reputation. However I soon found that he was very interested in the work of summer students and would attend the seminars given by students on their summer work projects and offer useful advice on their presentations – sometimes through challenging questions but always in his friendly way. I then went west to UBC for graduate work in physics and Erich followed two years later and was one of my graduate student professors.
My research supervisor was John Warren and it was during the mid 60
s when the plans for a new accelerator at UBC were being discussed, leading to the choice of Reg Richardsons design of a 500 MeV H- cyclotron. While John Warren with his team from the UBC physics department Karl Erdman, Bruce White, Ed Auld, Mike Craddock and others were busy on the technical design of what was to become the TRIUMF project it was Erich who led the political campaign for funding with his eastern contacts as well as providing important theoretical physics support.
Then in 1968 we learned that Erich and others had been successful in getting federal funding for TRIUMF and the serious design could start. I joined TRIUMF in 1969 working on several aspects of the design under the chief engineer Joop Burgerjon. The next 5 years efforts were rewarded in December 1974 with first beam from the cyclotron. Erich led the way as chairman of the TRIUMF Board of Management and occasionally an energetic magnet shimmer but also found time to be a Vice President at UBC. In 1981 he became TRIUMF director serving for the next 13 years. We had a cyclotron that met its design goals, a modest set of research equipment, but it was Erich that turned the laboratory into a successful user facility with a period of assured funding. He also organized the laboratory into the present divisional structure which has served us well for the past 30 plus years. I was fortunate to be in the first group of division heads so I came to appreciate his leadership and motivational skills and his ability to stickhandle around difficult issues. He diversified the lab into medical physics and material science.
s most important legacy was to make TRIUMF a truly international laboratory, a place where outside scientists loved to come to do their research, and the major laboratories of the world took notice of our technical and research successes. Erich and Barbaras summer lawn parties where many visiting scientists and their wives were invited to enjoy their hospitality (and admire Erich
s tomatoes) were an important ingredient in this success. Erich started TRIUMFs role in supporting international projects with our involvement in the HERA project in Germany in the mid 1980
s. He developed close ties with Japan and Israel as well as the United States.s to allow us to complete the cyclotron beam lines and experimental facilities.
All of this led to the KAON Factory where Erich became Dr. KAON in promoting the idea of a very powerful new accelerator for kaon and neutrino physics, with close to a billion dollar price tag. Many of us worked on the design, some started doing kaon physics at other labs and for the period from 1985 to 1994 it was a significant effort for the laboratory. Erich led the way, first getting government support for the design study, then a commitment from the province and then significant international support from Germany and Japan. Some of us were gearing up to build the project when in 1994 the federal government pulled the plug on KAON. However these ideas were passed on to Japan and helped in the construction of the J-PARC facility which has a number of TRIUMF scientists involved.
Fortunately for TRIUMF a new era started under Alan Astbury with plans to build the ISAC facility which has turned out to be a wise choice and support the CERN LHC project with accelerator and detector contributions, also a wise choice.
Erich returned to UBC teaching until he was 80, with more than 5000 1st year students attending his early morning physics lectures. But he always maintained a TRIUMF office, always kept an interest in what was going on at TRIUMF, and always was ready for a hallway greeting or conversation in any language. He was a prolific science writer with several illuminating articles on the history of Canadian science as well as obituaries for others where he set the standard.
Erich was the last remaining of the first 4 TRIUMF directors who were involved from the beginning. John Warren who along with Erich were the co-founders of TRIUMF, each with their special talents, Reg Richardson with the innovative idea for a meson producing cyclotron and who was there at the controls when we got first beam and Jack Sample who was able to get crucial funding in the late 1970
It is truly an end of an era for TRIUMF with Erich`s untimely passing. He was a true inspiration for all of us at TRIUMF and he will be sorely missed and not only for his Christmas fruitcake.
Erich was my first physics professor. I had never thought about pursuing a degree in physics, let alone a career, before taking his P120 class. But his class (co-taught with Bill Dalby) was fun, and opened my eyes to the world of physics. If I had not been inspired by Erich in his class, I probably would not have become a physicist (when the hot field then was computer science).
I still remember a few problems in my first P120 homework assignment. At that time, I wondered why he would assign problems such as "How many piano tuners are there in Vancouver?" or "How many trees are required for printing all the textbooks used in the universities in BC this year?" to a class of young students who were taught to grind out the last significant digit in every calculation in high school (or points will be deducted). Little did I know that he was trying to get us to think about the big picture, to get insights when dissecting problems, and not getting bogged down by mundane calculations. Other assignments were similar --- the emphasis was on getting an intuitive feel and very little on applying difficult mathematics.
Every time I do order-of-magnitude back-of-envelope calculations these days, I think of Erich's P120 class. Thank you, Erich! Rest in peace!
As the “chair” of the TRIUMF Seminar Committee from 2005-2014, I will not soon forget the gentle encouragement Erich regularly offered me. One of the most pleasant tasks associated with the job was to scream “Seminar!” at the top of my lungs to announce a talk at the end of the theory corridor, right next to Erich’s office, because this part of the building had not been outfitted with an intercom system presumably to allow the theorists to work without distraction. If Erich were in his office, as he usually was at this time, he would invariably answer me by screaming “Louder!” at the top of his lungs. This unsolicited advice was always taken in the spirit in which it was delivered.
As others have remarked, Erich had an innate generosity and an uncanny ability to relate to each unique human being fortunate enough to encounter him. I could share a small example from my own experience. He loved music very much and once attended a performance by an a cappella choir in which I sang. The next week when I saw him at the lab he lent me a videotape of an exquisite performance of Monteverdi’s “Madrigali Erotici” by a favourite British singing group of mine. I could only marvel once again at his profound knowledge, impeccable taste, and kindhearted generosity.
Erich will be missed dearly by the many people he touched.
I am grateful for the many moving, interesting and enlightening comments about Erich from those of you who have commented before me. Taken together they are a great tribute to a great man, and, not coincidentally one of the best salesman for science in his generation. How lucky we all were to have known Erich and Barbara! He has left an enduring legacy, not least in his children and grandchildren. My best wishes to all of them.
Erich was a truly inspirational colleague and a wonderful teacher. Many years ago, I taught the second term of Erich’s first year course which was probably not a clever thing to do because following him meant that one’s teaching evaluation by the students suffered badly. Nevertheless, one appreciated the extraordinary rapport he shared with the class. He attended some of my first lectures to check that I was teaching well enough to his class and I was thankful that he appeared reasonably satisfied. The lectures were at 8.00 am and, when he was teaching, Erich used to arrive an hour earlier so that students could consult with him individually. When I was involved in administration, I also used to go into the Department at 7.00 am, and often would go to chat with Erich to get his perspective on various issues which, of course, he was happy give. He had vision and pursued his goals with purpose and unbounded enthusiasm, but always with honesty and fairness. His memory will be revered by his colleagues and the thousands of students who were lucky to be taught by him.
One of Erich and Barbara’s memorable summer parties was held on Bastille Day. Upon realizing what date had been chosen, Erich told us to dress accordingly. Four of us did: Jeff and Darrilynn Child (Jeff was NRC’s liaison with TRIUMF) and Corlin and I. Everyone laughed when we arrived dressed for the French Revolution, but Erich rushed into to the house, reappeared in full, colourful academic garb and proceeded to lead a parade around the garden singing the Marseillaise!
Corlin & Elizabeth Bordeaux
We remember with fondness the wonderfulsupprt Erich showed in enqbling research intoParkinsn's disease. Srry weculdntbe here tday.
Susan and DonaldCalne
when we were living in Paris, Eric was invited for a brelfast at the White House with the US preseident. His wife sudden illness made him him decline the invitation, That was very impressive for the female partner of eqwually workaholic physicist
Bon voyage Eric,
from MArgaretha van Oers
Erich was the epitome of Neil de Grasse Tyson's remark that being a scientist means you never have to grow up.
Dave & Pam Gurd
Erich was my father's best friend and I remember all the kindnesses he and Barbara did to both my father and mother. And I remember the second half of the story about the trip to Lake Garibaldi with the Chinese delegation. Not only did Erich get a bus driver's licence specially for the occasion, he also carried two big watermelons up in his backpack to share with the Chinese. Were they ever surprised! Erich was a friend to all of us and we will miss him very much
I was always amazed by his energy and his lucidity. It is an inspiration.
My name is Ivan Entchevitch. I am the first Bulgarian scientist invited in 1987 to work in TRIUMF. The name and the works of Prof. Erich Vogt are well known and highly valuated between the particle physicists around the world. Maybe his gardening skills and achievements, including pears pruning, hanging strawberries cultivating and selecting seedless tomato were a hidden hobby, deserving the admiration from many of us.
But most of all I respect the human nature of Erich’s personality, demonstrated in the case described below.
In the end 1990 PET scanning revealed some cancer indication in my right kidney. Urgent life saving kidney removal surgery was proposed and executed in UBC Hospital the evening of 20-th January 1991. The next morning getting out of the anesthesia the first person I recognized was Erich Vogt, sitting on the corner of my bed. Minutes later my wife and sons appeared and hugged me.
Erich’s valuable support did not finish – almost 10 years afterwards he should prove to Immigration Canada that my health is not going to demand extreme recourses from the Canadian social and medical system. It is hard to express the gratitude of my whole family to him.
Ivan Entchevitch, Vancouver, March 4-th, 2014
Erich was a very caring and pleasant person. He would greet everyone by name & wouldn't forget to say Happy Birthday in the hallway. He was very warm and kind.
I’m sure everyone is aware of Erich’s extensive contributions so I would just like to add a few personal observations.
Erich was for a time UBC’s Vice-President of Faculty and Student Affairs. One of his first actions in this role was to recognize the importance of Graduate Fellowships and he proposed a substantial increase in the UGF budget, which has subsequently benefited not only years of graduate students but also UBC’s ability to attract and retain top caliber students who add their strength to our scholarship and research.
Erich’s loyal devotion and concern for his ailing colleagues; in particular Ken Mann, John Warren and George Volkoff, was exemplary and he visited them regularly. When Ken could no longer play golf, Erich bought him a computer golf game to keep his spirits up; I know he was very pleased to be able to tell John Warren before he died that the Warren Chair had been largely funded and I know he devoted much time to accompanying George Volkoff to cultural events while George was a patient in the Purdy Pavilion..
Finally, I would remark that Erich never seemed to bear a grudge. Erich moved on, the future was more in focus than the past; the future which he approached with his unquenchable enthusiasm for the ideas he felt worth fighting for.
David Llewelyn Williams
Dr. Vogt was Director of TRIUMF when I joined in 1989. I started work in the Director’s office assisting his Office Manager and Admin. Assistant and hence had the privilege of interacting closely with him. After his retirement, I continued to do work for him, especially typing the physics papers when he began teaching First Year Physics at UBC. In fact, when it came to exam time, he would always joke that I could make money selling the exam papers – such was his sense of humour!
If you ever bumped into Dr. Vogt on the corridors of TRIUMF, he would always greet you in your mother tongue. At Christmas he never failed to bake his delicious Fruit Cake and I was fortunate to have been a recipient of same since 1989. In fact last Christmas he told me he was unable to make Fruit Cake but would do so this year – sadly it was not meant to be.
Dr. Vogt’s presence at TRIUMF will be greatly missed but his memory will last forever!
Rest in Peace, Dr. Vogt.
You have been one of my few very best respected friends since the beginning of 1970's, when we, the University of Tokyo group, started exploring meson science with young colleagues at the new meson factory TRIUMF that was about to be born. We were heartily welcome by you. Without your enthusiastic, passionate and warm support and hospitality to persuade the seeds and nurseries to come oversea from Tokyo, our fruitful trees of today's international collaboration could never have been realized.
I remember vividly our common difficult time when you were struggling to push forward our future projects. We shared the same pleasure (and sorrow) in various circumstances. I was always moved by your strong wish to jump over severe obstacles, admiring your enormously broad-minded spirit. All these efforts have led us to the glory of the present day.
Dear Erich: Thank you very much for your ever lasting dedication to scientific development and warm friendship. We wish you a peaceful rest with Barbara.
With deep condolence,
Toshimitsu and Kuniko Yamazaki
Toshimitsu and Kuniko Yamazaki
I met first Dr. Vogt - Eric as he later told me, back in 1987 when I joined TRIUMF. I was a young engineer recently arrived from Italy. Those were the years preparing for the Kaon Factory funding run. I was immediately swept by the passion and the vision of Eric on the Kaon mission and took an interest in BC and Canadian federal political system w.r.t the relationship with TRIUMF.
Eric often remarked that Canada science was somehow still wrapped in a bronze medal mentality. His ambition was to move it into the Gold Medal arena. It would require sacrifices, but it was worth it because he felt the intellectual value of the Canadian scientists was not less than the American or European counterpart. Our young talent needed a venue were to practice to aspire to greater things.
Eric was a remarkable scientist, a superb leader, a fantastic teacher. What I remember best was is very friendly and warm personality, his love for music and his great memory. He could remember vividly the most minute detail while at the same time have the big picture well into focus.
Mentoring was in his nature and I was privileged to work under his leadership for many years, while he was TRIUMF’s director. After he retired, we often had chats in the corridors of TRIUMF. His daily presence in the laboratory gave a sense of continuity and stability.
We are going to miss his wisdom, his charisma and his warmth. At the same time we remember him for the qualities that make a great human being on many levels. He was a “Mensch”.
Dr. Vogt, Arrivederci and Requiem in Pace.
With Erich’s passing, Canada has lost a great scientist, an inspiring leader, a friend and mentor to generations of scientists and a tireless spokesman for high quality Canadian science. I can remember him speaking at Chalk River back in the 1970’s about the development of the TRIUMF accelerator, enthusiastically describing how even a theorist like him could participate in the construction work and make sure that the accelerator could produce scientific results in a timely way. He went on to be an inspiring Director for the laboratory, making TRIUMF a highly respected international laboratory. This development was a tribute to Erich’s personality, always enthusiastic, friendly, reaching out to the international community, insisting on high quality in the science being pursued but also providing a welcome atmosphere in the laboratory so that people were inspired to work there. I can remember visiting TRIUMF and observing how the laboratory had developed under his leadership, including the wonderful way that he and Barbara welcomed people socially and made them feel at home. Erich’s interest in science and young people continued past his formal retirement with the undergraduate teaching that he loved so much. I am very grateful to have known Erich and to be one of the many who have been inspired by his life. Art McDonald
Erich Vogt was an inspiring leader, a great scientist, an enthusiastic teacher, a thoughtful mentor, and a loyal friend.
I first knew Erich as Jonathan’s Dad when I was at U. Hill elementary school in the 1960’s -- always full of vigor and enthusiasm, he seemed almost larger than life. We used to attend the Open House events at UBC in the 60’s and 70’s. I remember great magic shows, physics demonstrations and pageants – Erich lining up various physics dept. professors to dress up as Galileo and Aristotle and drop things from the bell tower to demonstrate gravity – all great fun, and these had a lasting impression on people.
I never attended UBC, but knew from friends and colleagues that Erich loved teaching, and I heard some stories from my Dad who used to share the first year mechanics course with Erich for many years. They worked hard and had great fun doing it. When my father retired in the mid-70’s, Erich arranged a section to be carved out of the men’s room wall and presented to him as a retirement gift– a much treasured piece of graffiti complementing the teaching effort. Never mind that it was a big heavy concrete block that formed part of the building structure – a little thing like that would not stop Erich!
Much later when I joined the University of Manitoba and started to work on experiments at TRIUMF, I was fortunate to do so initially under Erich Vogt’s leadership. Those included the long hard fight to establish funding for a KAON factory, which almost succeeded. Along the way, Erich steadily built support and recognition for TRIUMF across the country, involving many new universities in the consortium. Times were hard, and the lab’s funding was uncertain for a long period. Erich kept his team in place by sheer force of personality; he could always find some way to read encouragement in a message that others would have seen the opposite. One quote comes easily to mind: “we’ve just been told that the government will fund our KAON project when hell freezes over – this is extremely good news; it is the first time they have committed to a date!”
I remember sitting through many long nights on the “graveyard” shift for experiments, bleary eyed by the end and waiting for relief of the next crew to start at 8 am – we always looked forward to Erich, who would come roaring down the hallways and visit all the counting houses well before 8 am each morning, enthusiastic to hear how things had gone overnight – did we have any discoveries for him today, etc. His care and encouragement of each individual working on the TRIUMF team, and his incredible passion and drive for excellent research that could be done right here in Canada -- the best place in the world for what was pursued at TRIUMF – made him a simply amazing lab director. He contributed so much to Canadian physics research and teaching in Canada and made a profound impact on many people. Those were great days. Erich Vogt will be sorely missed.
Shelley (Mann) Page
I have had the privilege of being the recipient of more than 20 Christmas cakes from Erich, you know these 10105 cm3 ( Erich liked metric systems) cakes in their neat cardboard boxes with a distinctive marzipan decoration on top ( always a different one as Erich kept accurate records of each ) which you found on your desk or mailbox around Dec 15th.
Erich asked me to be his deputy back in July 1988 when he received funding for the Kaon Project Definition Study and wanted someone to keep the TRIUMF science program going while he was travelling the world. He had decided that what he called my “Jesuit-stic” up-bringing in the French education system would be a good balance to his flamboyant and metaphoric style, and we clicked together admirably.
For example, at a workshop in Torino (Oct 1989) to convince the Italians and European physicists to join KAON, he said:
“ Earlier speakers have spoken about the KAON facility and its five rings. Let me also remind you about the fact that Vancouver and TRIUMF, though nine times zones away from Torino, are located in a Mediterranean settings and are very hospitable and congenial to European scientists. We know you will come”. I reminded him after that I could not remember seeing so many olive trees in “ Mediterranean” BC. He thought for a second and said: “... but fig trees we have and lots of tomatoes as I grow in my garden”.
I learned a lot from his management techniques, especially from his people skills: he was superb at getting people’s attention and friendship, be it by keeping track of the birthday of each employee and calling them on that day, having everyone greeted in his(her) own mother tongue or having a joke to break the ice on first encounter, treating visitors like family friends, picking them at the airport, inviting them to his house for the famous July reunion on his deck, etc .
He was a superb teacher, communicator and writer: I enjoyed his writing skills a lot and recall that you better be on the good side of his acerbic prose as the proponents of Cold Fusion found out in his comments to the editor in the local press . He didn’t tolerate what he called non-sense science and was not afraid to say so.
He was a trail blazer (as many visitors found out on an unexpected hike to Garibaldi lake early on Sunday morning!!!) who moved science to the forefront of the Vancouver and Canadian scene. He deeply believed in excellence, in first class science and scientists.
I , like Erich, am a Volvo addict and I guess it tells a lot about our approach to life and family. I will always be grateful for the trust he expressed in me and for his friendship. My sons remember to this day how he described what I was doing at TRIUMF back in the late 70’s: “ You know what your dad is doing at TRIUMF... He is searching for nothing ... but a very important nothing!”. That was typical Erich .
Erich would have understood why I am not able to be present on Saturday for the celebration of his life: He would not have me cancel my Japan trip to J-PARC to chair its International Advisory Committee , and in fact during my last conversation with him in VGH, he inquired how J-PARC was doing: clearly J-PARC ‘s KAON was still very much on his mind.
Au revoir Erich et un grand merci pour tout,
I first met Dr. Vogt after he gave a very motivating speech at Laval University (Quebec) in 1968. I was a fourth-year Engineering Physics student seeking to pursue a Master of Science degree at a different university. Dr. Vogt sparked my interest in UBC where he became my initial thesis supervisor.
After obtaining my Master Degree in Physics at TRIUMF, I switched fields to study Economics but nonetheless always maintained a warm and friendly relationship with Dr. Vogt. He was so enthusiastic about physics and so dedicated to science that it was always a pleasure to be in his company.
He had also a sense of humor. Those were the years of the FLQ crisis in Quebec. When one of the FLQ members was arrested, he told police his name was Bolduc, while his real name was Simard. From that day, Dr Vogt kept calling me Simard.
While at UBC, I met the girl that would become my partner-in-life and, by coincidence, it turned out that one of her closest friend was -and still is- Susan Vogt, the eldest daughter of Dr. Vogt. Through that family connection, I was able to always remain in contact with Dr. Vogt.
We met a few times during my many visits to Vancouver, on a few occasions together we toured TRIUMF, where he was revered. One of our last exchanges was on the opinion he wrote in “Physics in Canada” in 2011 on the financing of a fusion reactor project. Dr. Vogt was never afraid of making his opinions clearly known.
I consider myself privileged to have been able to remain in touch with Dr. Vogt over so many years. Susan knows how much I liked him.
Jean Louis Bolduc
Erich kindly spoke at my retirement and he mentioned that he had know me longer than anyone at TRIUMF. Erich and my father were UBC grad students when I was a baby. Barbara and Erich will always be thought of as family friends with a kind word and a thought for several Pearce generations. Erich will be remembered as a colleague of Mike Pearce and myself and a great director during my TRIUMF career.
David R. Pearce
After Erich instigated my joining UBC in 1968 I I had been his Chalk River summer student 1961 and 1962), I appeared with him , simultaneously "onstage" teaching the enriched P120 course for several years..an educational experience !
remember "SEMINAR" announcements by Erich booming thru the TRIUMF corridors at a volume level audible even to the near-deaf !
Erich may be the only colleague I knew who really enjoyed taking exams home for marking
It is extremely sad to hear that Erich Vogt passed away.
I knew him since 1970’s, but the first strong impression was in the early of 1980 in Berkeley when he chaired a session for my talk. I was very nervous on this talk since it would decide the fate of the Bevalac. During my talk he came to me and whispered something to me, but I was not able to understand his statement. The statement was very clear: "you have 10 minutes left". However, this statement was given by Japanese so that I was not able to catch it easily, since no one expect Japanese in the US.
We had many occasions with him. When I was at Columbia University he came to us to celebrate the 80th Birthday of C. S. Wu in the early of 1990 and gave an excellent talk. Invitation was my idea and he gladly accepted it.
When I started JHF (same as J-PARC) in the late of 1990, he took care of the chair of the review committee where T. D. Lee, A. Arima. M. Koshiba, and other people there. Then, when J-PARC was completed in 2009, I invited him to give a talk at the Inauguration Ceremony. He always told me that J-PARC was his product. This is correct.
He has been a long friend of us and a great supporter to us. We miss him very much. I pray sincerely from Japan his eternal peace on him.
Erich had vision that was informed by his background, education, passion, and fascination with science. Those of us who worked with, and for him, were fortunate to learn from the many facets of his understanding of nature. He repeatedly showed the ability and enthusiasm to share it with us. His communication skills were outstanding, not only because he could speak to a large room with nothing but his vocal amplification.
What I have admired most over many years, and will remember most fondly of him, was his scientific integrity. While dealing with the challenges of running a laboratory and fighting the political battles to support its future, he put the science first. In public and in private, he would not let a demonstrably inaccurate assertion pass without challenge, and had no tolerance for claims that could not be supported. To him, there was no magic in the natural world, even though it might have seemed that way.
I have many fond memories of Erich to cherish, and will share only a couple. In the six months before becoming director, Erich made an extensive trip around the world consulting with many expat Canadians (I was a postdoc at SIN then) about their perceptions of TRIUMF. This effort made me as an individual feel important to the lab…. I think he always did that with people. Years later, Erich would astonish visiting scientists by dropping into the counting rooms at 07:30 on a Monday morning to see how the experiments had gone: His leadership was top notch and personal. His enthusiasm was contagious! Thank-you Erich….we will miss you!
My Friend Erich
With tears in my eyes I am writing this last letter to you, Erich. I know that you will not read it, but I want to end our contacts with a personal letter addressed to you. Excuse me for not elaborating on your great achievements in science, in directing TRIUMF, in assisting laboratories around the world to improve their activities, or in editing so many physics books. I am sure that other friends of yours will do so. It’s just that you are such a unique person and such a good friend since the day we met 35 years ago, when you came to meet Rivka and me at the Vancouver Airport, that I prefer to remind you (and myself) of some of the great moments that we have spent together - the serious events as well as the lighter ones.
Our arguments over scientific problems made me a better physicist, and I learned a great deal from you how to improve my teaching of physics; so much so in fact that I invited you a few years ago to Tel Aviv University to teach our first-year students for one week, so that our teachers would see what good teaching really is. I also want to thank you for reading my books and for the many corrections and suggestions that you made prior to publication.
I recall that my first question to you was why you had so many foreigners in the lab, and you said that this made the lab international, and therefore better. "And why do you have so many Israelis and other Jews?" I asked; and you said that you admire the Jews for their contributions to physics, medicine, and other fields of science.
Barbara and you spent many days together with us in Vancouver, Japan, Tel Aviv, Rome, as well as in Santa Catherina in the Sinai Desert, where you could not take off the tight gallabiyas, which the Bedouins had dressed you in. And mentioning Japan, I recall seeing you and Barbara walking in the streets of Kyoto, laughing. You told us that you had bathed in the big bath of the Ryokan, and when you finished, you emptied the bath. Later you heard the owner shouting since the full bath was for the use of all guests.
I recall that on a cruise which we all took with Jan and Parker Alford, in the Mediterranean Sea, I asked you when the two of us were alone in one of the coast cities, why we always rent an expensive big car with a chauffer. And you said, "Let’s quickly rent a car without a chauffer, before the others come back." This reminds me of another incident when I told you at TRIUMF that you had been taking us to so many good restaurants in town, and asked why you don't try a MacDonald’s once. And you said, "I will always go to MacDonald’s with you to eat lunch, but on one condition, that you don't tell Barbara."
At this point I would like to remind you of one of your funniest stories, which appears in the books you have written on the history of Barbara's family and of yours. One day at Princeton Barbara bought you a complete set of clothes, wanting to introduce you properly dressed to her parents. On the way to the concert, dressed in a new suit and tie, Barbara said, "Look at your feet!" You looked down and saw that you had forgotten to wear shoes.
There are many other anecdotes that I can remind you of, but let me end by telling your most favorite one, which you always told when Rivka and I were present. During one of those dinners on your terrace, in the presence of many distinguished scientists, I told you that it was our wedding anniversary. You waited patiently, and when Barbara served Rivka a huge piece of a Pavlova cake, Rivka called out with a smile, "Is this all that I get?" You jumped up, hushed everybody, and said, "Since their wedding night, Avivi has always heard Rivka complain, "Is this all that I get'?"
I have learned so much physics, biology, and geography from you, Erich. I will miss your jokes, as well as our hot discussions about science and politics; In fact, my computer is full of those discussions. I consider myself fortunate to have had a friend like you, Erich, for so many years. Good bye my friend!
Avivi I. Yavin
Back in 1965 I had the fortune to have Dr. Erich Vogt as professor during my student years at UBC. I remember with fondness the times that we students had to “review” a just published article about latest developments in nuclear physics. After each of us gave a “presentation” at the UBC physics department we moved to his close- by home on campus where his wife Barbara had prepared a delicious evening snack for us. If I remember correctly, we students were more interested at that moment on the snacks than on physics!
I should add that after getting my Ph.D. in physics at UBC I joined PSI (formerly SIN-Swiss Institute for Nuclear Research) and I learned there that Erich’s ancestors came from a village closed by to PSI namely Villigen!
Erich, my wife and I remember you and Barbara with affection. We missed both of you.
Miguel and Margarete Olivo
I had Dr. Vogt for Pysics 120 back in 1972, one of the highlights of that year was a visit we took as a class to the under-construction TRIUMF. When the time came for my daughter to attend university, she chose UBC (2000), she also had Dr. Vogt for the same class and very much enjoyed him.
Dr. Vogt was the Director when I joined TRIUMF in 1982. He was a kind person, full of humour and put you at ease whenever you had to interact with him. When he found out that I was originally from Sri Lanka, he invariably greeted me first in Sinhala.
He will always be remembered with gratitude and affection.
I was one of Dr. Vogt’s undergraduate students in the late 1980’s. I remember fondly his seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm for physics and teaching. He was one of my absolute favourite professors and I appreciated that he treated us all with such kindness.
Lucky for me that Erich never learned PowerPoint.
When I was a graduate student he was an imposing figure with a common touch who still embodied the romantic 'secular priesthood' notion of scientific life harboured by idealistic (naive ?) students like myself. I loved him for it.
I became a 'colleague' when he asked me to 'help' him with a PowerPoint presentation, the first of many such presentations I prepared for him in later years. I looked forward to each of them, not only for the priceless science and history lessons, but for the stories. Oh, those stories !
Erich did a great many things for me, but those stories are one gift that will last me a lifetime.
God Bless You, Erich
I have many memories of Erich Vogt but there is one that I want to share. Erich was giving a talk on some theoretical work that he had recently completed. It was during a conference in Tennessee as I recall during the 1960’s and to show slides in a large lecture hall in those days required the use of a carbon arc projector. Those projectors ran quite hot and Eric figured out a novel way to make use of the heat. His slide showed a curved line representing his theoretical result and a bunch of black blobs representing the latest results from experiments. The blobs were far above the black line so it appeared that the theory did not work very well. Erich was confidently forecasting that over time experimental results would come down to meet his predictions, which he knew were correct. While he was speaking some of the audience let out gasps. The dots were moving down and continued to do so until they rested on the theoretical curve. It is amazing what some black tape and wax will do to resolve differences between theory and experiment.
W John McDonald
Erich Vogt was an eccentric, brilliant and passionate man with lots of vision and never afraid to do what was necessary to move forward, either as a person or in physics.
I think we have all learned from him
It was with great regret and sadness that Fay and I learned that Erich Vogt had passed away. He was a great friend and university colleague when I was at UBC as Head of the Department of Medicine from 1976-1987. Erich was a brilliant man who had a deep love of physics and indeed all academics. Since I also came from Steinbach, we treasured our relationship all the more. As provost, he supported the new research directions in Medicine. He was a lot of fun and we also received his marvellous fruitcake at Christmas.
Erich will be greatly missed as he captivated the best at UBC and in science as a whole.
With all our sympathies and in memory of a life truly well lived.
John & Fay Dirks
John and Fay Dirks
Few people display greatness in quite so many different ways. I will always miss Erich's booming voice resounding down the corridors of TRIUMF, his generous support and sage advice for our research efforts, his inspirational (for both students and faculty) teaching, his plenitude of backyard tomatoes and his warm friendship. I wish he could have lived forever.
Jess H. Brewer
- Reinhold Fassler
- David Gurd
- Davis LLP
- Franco & Cindy Mammarella
- Art McDonald
- Cynthia MacDougall
- Carol Jamieson
- Garth & Irene Jones
- Brenda Pritchard
- Suzanne Murphy
- Arthur Olin & Odie Geiger
- Janis McKenna
- Miguel & Margarete Olivo
- John & Joan Vincent
- Olga Volkoff
- Andy, Alex, Colette & David Vogt
- Brian & Annie Turrell
- Isabel Trigger & Robert McPherson
- Brian Pate
- D. Frekers
- Harold & Ginny Fearing
- Dr. John Dirks
- Michael Craddock
- Alan & Elizabeth Bell
- Marcia Sauder & Michael Bull
- Pearce Family
- Ewart Blackmore
- Toshimitsu & Kuniko Yamazaki
- Joop Burgerjon
- Gordon & Dale Miller
- Peter & Josephine Kitching