HOLDEN, Mass. - Van Fonken Wilford Bluemel, 78, died on Thanksgiving Day, No. 22, 2012 at Rose Monahan Hospice Home in Worcester.
He leaves behind his wife, Paulette Bluemel; his daughter, Dr. Kristin Bluemel and her husband George Witte, of Ridgewood, New Jersey; his daughter, the Rev. Lee Bluemel and her husband Dr. Terry Buchanan, of North Andover, Massachusetts; his grandchildren, Helen and Vera Witte, Andrew and Emma Buchanan; his sisters, Gregg Walker of Mt. Holly, North Carolina, and Maureen Zafros of Arlington, Virginia, and their families.
Van was born on February 8, 1934 in Freeport, IL to Dorothy and C.T. Bluemel. He graduated from Freeport High School in 1952 and as a youth achieved the Eagle Scout award in Boy Scouts.
He attended the California Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan to study physics. He played baritone horn in the Michigan Marching Band and Symphony Band, and graduated with a bachelor of science 1956. He received his masters in 1960 and doctorate in 1967 in physics from the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana. Van served in the ROTC for four years and in 1956 was appointed as an officer in the Air Force. He attended flight school in Malden, Missouri and also served at NORAD in Colorado Springs, CO. He married Paulette Kling on June 9, 1963 in Oak Park, IL. They celebrated their 49th anniversary last June.
Van was a professor of physics at Worcester Polytechnic Institute from 1966 to 1999 and remained involved in his retirement. In 1996 he received the WPI Board of Trustees Award for Outstanding Teaching. In 2011 he received the George P. Dixon Award for many years as a dedicated advisor to the Skull Senior Honor Society, to which he was elected in1982.
His hobbies included hiking, bee keeping, skiing, reading, singing in the Worcester Chorus for over 30 years, photography, volunteering for his Unitarian Universalist Church and for cancer research, and spending time with his grandchildren.
Calling hours will take place on Saturday, December 1 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Miles Funeral Home, 1158 Main Street, Holden. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester, 90 Holden Street.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester, 90 Holden St., Worcester, MA 01606 (www.uucworcester.org) or to the Appalachian Mountain Club, for Cold River Camp AMC, 5 Joy Street, Boston, MA 02108 /www.outdoors.org).