An inventive farewell for Nick DeWolf
July 22, 2006
Hundreds showed up at the Aspen Center for Physics on a sunny Saturday afternoon to celebrate the life of Nick DeWolf with good food, pictures and mementos, and plenty of amusing memories. At the entryway to the Physics Center a group of people were watching a slide show featuring photos of Nick – “he worked hard… [it reads,] he played with passion… he loved those around him.”Further along the hall are bits and pieces of his inventions – meters, vacuum tubes, Teradyne’s first circuit board. “We wanted to show people here what they couldn’t already see of his work,” said his daughter, Nicole DeWolf. “He was a well-documented person.”
Nick DeWolf, who died in April, was known to some as “Aspen’s conscience” and to all as a brilliant, eccentric inventor and visionary. His work in the semiconductor field paved at least a portion of the path to today’s computer industry. In Aspen, it seemed he was always working on 100 different things simultaneously. Perhaps he’s best known for playing an instrumental role in design and construction of the famed dancing fountain on the Hyman Avenue mall.”Nick was a great friend and a wonderful character,” said Andrei Ruckenstein, president of the Aspen Center for Physics, where the event was held. “He was one of us.”As an inventor, DeWolf enjoyed having people in Aspen who were as naturally curious and constantly questioning as the physicists.”He loved physics,” said Nicole. “He was a nuts and bolts inventor. But he used to say that a lot of what he did was rooted in physics.”Many of the rooms at the Physics Center had various different slide shows from his trips and events that he took part in such as Burning Man.
Standing around were people talking about Nick, about his bear hugs and his wonderful smile. They were talking about how smart he was and about the things he figured out how to do. Outside were tables laden with good food and a video crew from Grassroots to tape thoughts and memories about Nick. It was what Nick would have wanted from a memorial. As he wrote, “not for me but for others, to encourage them to be courageous and charge into life. GOOD FOOD. TOM LEHRER. BOOGIE MUSIC Dance at my funeral. No droopy poetry or weepy religion. HAVE FUN!”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org