Rafael's Eulogy/tribute

In case it is easier to read Rafael's Facebook posting (May 2, 2021) as plain text and not a screen shot, here it is:

On Thursday, April 29, Noah, Jonathan, and I lost our grandfather, Michael Friedlander, at the age of 92.

Dr. Michael Friedlander was an incredibly accomplished man. A professor of physics, both active and emeritus, for nearly six decades at Washington University in St. Louis, he wrote several books and countless articles on the subject of cosmic rays and pseudoscience and inspired both my father and my brother to also pursue higher education in physics. But more than that, he had one title that meant more to me than any other: Grandpa.

He was born in South Africa in 1928, and received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees with honors from the University of Cape Town. In 1952, he traveled by steamship to Bristol, England, where he earned his doctorate degree under the recent Nobel Physics Laureate Cecil Powell at the University of Bristol. Grandpa came to St. Louis in 1956 and was an assistant professor at Wash U until 1967 when he was promoted to full professorship. In his time there, he served as the vice president of the national American Association of University Professors for a time and, though he himself was not a terribly musical person, the chair of the Wash U Music Department for a couple years in the early 1980s while my father was a student there.

Family history on the Friedlander side of the family was important to Grandpa and it is important to me. It’s how we know of De Aar, the South African railroad junction founded in 1903 by Grandpa’s grandfather and great uncle, and the main street of the town, Friedlander Street. It’s how we know of our relation to Joseph Hirshhorn (second cousin, thrice removed), for whom the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in D.C. is named. We nicknamed it “Cousin Joe’s Museum”. So even though Cape Town is 6,000 miles away from Bristol and over 8,500 from St. Louis, Grandpa remained in touch with family in South Africa, writing letters back and forth nearly weekly for many, many years. Since then, that evolved into phone calls between my grandparents and my father once he moved east, and later weekly Skype calls between them in Missouri and my parents, brother, and I in Maryland.

My love for the sport of baseball, one of my longest-lasting interests, can be traced back to Grandpa. He was the official scorer for games in South Africa, and later taught my dad how to score as they attended many St. Louis Cardinals games together in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

I always looked forward to our many trips to St. Louis over the years. Together, we explored many areas in and around the city, be it the Botanic Gardens, the Science Center, or even Cahokia Mounds across the river, about which Grandpa was particularly interested. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had him be a part of my life for 18 years, especially after some health scares in 2015, when we were unsure if he would be able to make it to my bar mitzvah that October.

Over 62 years of marriage with my grandmother and 92 years of life, Grandpa Michael touched countless peoples’ lives and made an untold impact across many areas of his life. I will miss him forever.