UC Berkeley press release


UC Berkeley emeritus engineering professor and microwave expert Diogenes Angelakos is dead at 77

by Robert Sanders

Berkeley -- Diogenes James Angelakos, director for 20 years of the Electronics Research Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley and a much-loved member of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, died Saturday, June 7, at his home in Berkeley.

Though he battled prostate cancer for more than six years, he remained full of energy and despite his retirement worked on campus nearly every day until three weeks ago. A professor emeritus of electrical engineering and computer sciences, he was 77.

Angelakos was one of the department's finest and most popular teachers, a pioneer in the field of microwaves, antennas and electromagnetic waves, and one who served the university with devotion, integrity and humor.

"He was very much a people person, encouraging faculty and students to interact with one another," said Andrew Neureuther, a professor of electrical engineering whom Angelakos enticed to UC Berkeley as a young faculty member in 1966. "And he was always a proponent of the students."

It was while he served as director of the Electronics Research Laboratory that he became by chance one of the early victims of the Unabomber. Early on the morning of July 2, 1982, Angelakos grabbed the handle of a booby-trapped package in a coffee room across the hall from the laboratory, triggering a pipe bomb to explode and injuring his right hand. Luckily an attached can of gasoline did not ignite, but he required surgery to repair the tendons in his hand. Despite the damage he eventually learned to write again, but he retained powder burns on his fingers as a permanent reminder of the explosion.

He continued as director of the laboratory until 1984, and retired as an emeritus professor in 1990. Among his awards was the Berkeley Citation, the highest honor for a UC Berkeley professor. After his retirement he continued to serve as a graduate advisor, graduate affirmative action advisor, and the campus Ombudsman for Student Affairs.

Angelakos suffered other tragedies in his life, including the death of his wife, Helen, from cancer in 1982, and the death of his son, Demetri, from sickle cell anemia and thalassemia in 1979.

Born in Chicago on July 3, 1919, he and his family later moved to Luddington, Mich. He received his BS in electrical engineering from Notre Dame University in 1942 and his MS (1946) and PhD (1950) in the same field from Harvard University.

After a brief stint on the faculty at Notre Dame he came to UC Berkeley in 1951, and assumed directorship of the Electronics Research Laboratory in 1964. During his two-decade tenure he boosted the lab from a small departmental research group to a large research center with an international reputation and yearly funding of $15 million.

His own work involved the scattering of electromagnetic waves from objects, studies which were applicable to various radar and microwave technologies. He also wrote a classic textbook, Microwave Communications, with Thomas E. Everhart in 1968.

Because of his excellent administrative skills he was tapped for more than three dozen committees and councils during his years at UC Berkeley. Even after his retirement he continued to work at the Electronics Research Laboratory, and most recently was associate director under Shankar Sastry.

He was a fellow and later a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and an honorary member of the Greek Physical Society. Among his awards was the Greek Independence Medal for Technical Assistance to Greek Science and the Axion Award of the Hellenic-American Professional Society of California.

He is survived by his daughter Erica Angelakos of Seattle, and a brother Chris Angelakos and sister Bessie Schohl, both of Luddington, Mich.

A funeral and mass will be held at the Greek Orthodox Church in Oakland on Wednesday, June 11, at 11 a.m. Friends may send contributions to the Demetri Angelakos Fund, care of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, 231 Cory Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1770. The fund established in honor of Angelakos' son recognizes an outstanding graduate student each year for his or her altruistic and scholastic achievements in the department.

A campus memorial service is planned for the fall.

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