Harold S. Zapolsky
Harold S. Zapolsky, of Somerset, professor emeritus and a former chair, Department of Physics, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University–New Brunswick, passed away on September 13, 2016, at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick. He was 80.
Cremation was held privately under the direction of Gleason Funeral Home, Somerset. A memorial service is anticipated at a later date.
After teaching physics as an assistant professor at the University of Maryland and serving as program director for theoretical physics at the National Science Foundation, Zapolsky was recruited in 1973 to join Rutgers as chair of the Physics Department, moving to Highland Park. Following six years as chair, he continued to do research and taught as a full professor until retiring in 2007. He moved to Somerset in 2012.
Zapolsky, born and raised in Chicago, attended Shimer College (then part of the University of Chicago), graduating in two years with a bachelor’s degree in physics at the age of 18. He did his graduate work at Cornell University, where he wrote his Ph.D. thesis on quantum mechanics. In 1962, he moved to New York City, where he worked at the NASA Institute for Space Studies. A year later he moved to the Washington, D.C., area.
Zapolsky had an unusually wide variety of professional and personal interests, including mountain climbing, astrophysics, sailing, special relativity, classical music, chaos theory, and pool. But his strongest lifelong passions were teaching science, exploring the world, and spending time with family.
He is survived by his wife, Leonor Conzevoy; his children, step-children, and their spouses, David Zapolsky and Lynn Hubbard, Sarah Zapolsky and David Williams, Tom Pascarella, and Nicholas Cortes and Trish O'Donnell; a sister and brother-in-law, Bette and Stan Segal; and six grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial donations be made to the Lois Zapolsky Memorial Prize at Douglass Residential College. Checks may be made payable to Rutgers University Foundation, with a memo note of "Lois Zapolsky Memorial Prize," and sent to: Development Office, Douglass Residential College, 125 George St., College Hall, New Brunswick, N.J. 08901.