A Tribute to John W. Gofman from Cleveland, Ohio
Posted in the Cleveland Forum
#1 Apr 5, 2014
In Memoriam John W. Gofman M.D., Ph.D. 1918-2007 from Cleveland, Ohio.
In the time since the death of John W. Gofman August 15.2007, a number
of obituaries have already been published as one can easily read with a search engine. His
many scientific accomplishments are also well documented on the Committee For Nuclear
Responsibility Website and elsewhere http://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/inme...
There are interesting similarities between John LeConte. M.D.(1818-1891). first president and first professor of physics at the University of California.Berkeley, and John W. Gofman (1918-2007). professor of medical physics there.While their lives were separated by roughly a century of time. both were medical doctors and
both were physicists in particular, but renaissance scientists in generaL
LeConte was born in Liberty County Georgia near Savannah December 4. 1818 and died
April 30. 1891.
Gofman was born in Cleveland, Ohio September 21, 1918 and died August 15, 2007.
Gofman received both his medical degree and his Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry from
UC Berkeley and the medical school at San Francisco.
LeConte was of French ancestry. Gofman was of Russian ancestry.
Both individuals wrote on a vast variety of subjects and sought to use fundamental scientific
understanding to alleviate human suffering. Unfortunately neither scientist was able to study
with the intellectual "giants" of Europe.
Both men had very high intellectual capacities. high qualities of character and courage.
LeConte never failed to criticize one whom he believed to be fooling others with false
science. Gofman even fought with his former supervisor Glen Seaborg over the dangers to
humanity of atomic radiation. Yet it is obvious both of these remarkable individuals had. among them so many other good human
characterists but especially a conscience and a soul.
In the beautiful memoir of John LeConte by his younger brother Joe. published April. 1894
he states "More than any other man he was the father of the university."
Perhaps it could be rightly said of John Gofman,"More than any other man he was the son of
When my wife was nearly killed about 15 years ago. not from breast cancer. but treatment
he kindly took an interest in her and reviewed what the doctors were doing where she was
being treated at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Texas.
He unselfishly did this. without any consideration of money, liability or time spent.
His many unselfish acts. in particular the debate with professor Teller in California in the
1970's, are history.
I once sent him a copy of the Ph.D. thesis of John Lupoid "FROM PHYSICIAN TO
PHYSICIST: THE SCIENTIFIC CAREER OF JOHN LECONTE M.D, 1818-1891", University
of South Carolina. Department of History. 1970. John Gofman wrote back that he had no
idea of the remarkable history of the name on LeConte Hall at Berkeley across from Gilman
Hall where his office was. He deeply appreciated this knowledge and information. This illustrates the kind of honest true scientist and humanitarian he was, interested only in knowledge, truth and understanding and the aiding of others. I also went in and out of LeConte Hall at Berkeley for about two years and had no idea of the fabulous history of the name that building memorialized before I read the Ph.D. Dissertation of John Lupold. There ia also a building LeConte Hall at the University of Georgia, Athens, and a LeConte College at the University of South Carolina as well, in addition to numerous streets and other memorials to this giant John LeConte, M.D. of the nineteenth century.
Thank you John W. Gofman, medical doctor. scientist and sage. with courage, compassion
and scrupulous personal integrity and honesty. Your conduct throughout your life. like the
conduct of your mentor John LeConte M.D. before you. sets the high example for others
after you to follow. Let us hope and pray they have the wisdom to do so.
#2 Apr 5, 2014
Continued from above
The great American Educator Horace Mann is credited with this statement: "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for mankind". Professor Dr. John W. Gofman clearly satisfied this dictum.
Winfield J. Abbe
A..B. Physics. University of California. Berkeley. 1961
M.S .. Physics. California State University at Los Angeles, 1962
Ph,D. Physics. University of California. Riverside,!966
Formerly of Sierra Madre, California
Born at Cleveland, Ohio 1939
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