Helmholzes Give $500,000 Toward Physics Laboratories
by Karen Rhodes
Asked why she and her husband committed $500,000 to lead the campaign for Berkeley's new physics laboratories, Betty Helmholz is quick to reply.
"The exciting work in Berkeley's physics department brought Carl to California--and to me."
Friends since their Minnesota childhoods, Betty Little and Carl Helmholz found themselves on opposite coasts when Betty went to Stanford and Carl to Harvard.
To begin graduate work in 1937, Carl chose Berkeley because of the pioneering discoveries of E. O. Lawrence, Luis Alvarez and other progenitors of high-energy physics.
But he knew Betty was nearby. They were married in 1938 after she graduated from Stanford.
Their gift will help build modern teaching and research space for the Department of Physics, which faces serious needs for expanded and modernized space.
Carl Helmholz taught in the department for 40 years, serving as chair from 1955 to 1962.
After retiring in 1980, he continued to offer time and counsel to the department and the university. She, too, has been active with the University YWCA, International House, the University Art Museum and other campus programs.
"At this point in our lives, we found we could do something," she says. "It's nice to be able to share our good fortune."
"We made the gift to benefit the department as a whole," adds Carl Helmholz.
"We know that the new labs will be used by numerous people and that activities will change over time. We have a lot of confidence in the department."