Walter Isaac Goldburg
September 27, 1927 – November 18, 2018
Walter Isaac Goldburg, a former professor of physics, died in New Jersey on November 18, 2018, at the age of 91. Dr. Goldburg was born in New York City in 1927 to William Goldburg and Lucile Sternberger Goldburg and raised in Westchester County, New York and Wilmington, North Carolina. Fascinated by science from childhood, young Walter played with a chemistry set and ham radio. He became a radio operator for a local station at the age of 16, during World War II, and applied those skills in the U.S. Army during his military service at Fort Bragg a few years later. Following his military service, he attended Cornell University for a B.A. in physics and then Duke University, where he earned a Ph.D. in physics. While working as a postdoctoral student at Carnegie Technical Institute (now Carnegie Mellon University), Dr. Goldburg met Dr. Helen Urquhart, another physicist, who became the love of his life. They were married in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1957 at Temple Sinai. They moved to State College, Pennsylvania, in 1959 for Walter’s first tenure track position at Penn State, but missed Pittsburgh and returned there in 1963 when Walter was hired as an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Employed at Pitt for more than 30 years, Dr. Goldburg specialized in experimental physics and delighted in working in his labs with his colleagues and students. His work led him to travel and make close friends with researchers around the world, and he received several honors for his scientific achievements including a Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award. After becoming an emeritus professor, Dr. Goldburg held research grants until the age of 85 and published papers in scientific journals until the age of 88.
Dr. Goldburg was an active supporter of numerous environmental, civic, and scientific organizations, and was particularly well known for his dedication to battling air pollution in Western Pennsylvania. He was a founding member of Group Against Smog and Air Pollution (GASP) in Pittsburgh, serving twice as its President. He also served on Allegheny County's Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee. Dr. Goldburg was predeceased by his beloved wife, Helen, who passed away in 2015. He is survived by his sister, Evelyn Ullman of Pittsboro, North Carolina, and his two daughters, Rebecca Goldburg of Montclair, New Jersey and Barbara Wickman of Bayfield, Colorado, along with their husbands and four grandchildren.
A memorial service for Dr. Goldburg will be held at the Coble Ward-Smith funeral home in Wilmington, NC, at noon on November 30 , 2018, followed by burial at Oakdale Cemetery.