Recent Obituaries
In Memoriam Archive

Samuel Clark Fain Jr. ’65

Samuel Clark Fain Jr. ’65, May 26, 2009, at home in Seattle, Washington, following a long illness. Sam came to Reed from Tennessee, and earned a BA in physics. He met Carolyn Lyon ’66 at Reed; they married in 1966 and lived in Urbana, Illinois, while Sam completed his PhD in physics from the University of Illinois, followed by a year at the University of Amsterdam with a NATO fellowship. In 1970, he joined the faculty of the University of Washington (UW), where he taught physics for 38 years, with professional interests in surface science, nanotechnology, and the teaching of experimental physics. He was awarded an Alfred P. Sloan fellowship (1971–75), was elected fellow of the American Physical Society, and was one of the founders of the UW Center for Nanotechnology. In the ’80s, he returned to Reed to present a seminar and to give the A.A. Knowlton Memorial Lecture in physics. At the time of his death, UW colleagues wrote: “As an assistant professor, he designed and built what was then one of the first and best in the world low-energy electron diffraction (LEED), variable temperature spectrometers. With it, he and his students explored the structure, phases, and molecular dissociation of the first layer of atoms or molecules deposited on the surface of graphite. The results that they obtained were, and still are, the standard in the field.” Further, they noted: “Sam was an unassuming person; his understanding demeanor an example for all of us that science, faith, joy, sadness, friendship, and life can peacefully coexist.” Sam was a photographer, astronomy enthusiast, and bird lover. He was politically active in peace and environmental movements, and was a member of St. Mark Episcopal Cathedral. Carolyn died of cancer in 1981, and Sam later married Patty Hayes. Survivors include Patty; a son; two daughters; and a sister and two brothers.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2010

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