Harry Woolf, 79, physics professor and Johns Hopkins provost

January 09, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Harry Woolf, a former provost at the Johns Hopkins University who later was director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., died of Parkinson's disease Monday at his home there. He was 79.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., he served with the Army in the Pacific during World War II; he attained the rank of sergeant and received three Bronze Stars.

"He served with an Army amphibious unit in the New Guinea campaign, but talked little of his wartime experiences," said his son, Aaron G. Woolf of New York City.

He resumed his education after the war, earning his bachelor's and master's degrees in 1948 and 1949 from the University of Chicago in the fields of mathematics, physics and history. He earned his doctorate in the history of science in 1955 from Cornell University.

Dr. Woolf taught physics and the history of science at Boston University, Brandeis University and the University of Washington in Seattle from 1953 until 1961, when he was named as Willis K. Shepard professor of the history of science at Hopkins.

A former Bolton Hill and Mount Washington resident, Dr. Woolf served as department chairman from 1961 until 1972, when he was named provost. In 1976, he was appointed director of the Institute for Advanced Study, an independent research institution founded in 1930.

"The Johns Hopkins University and I personally will find Harry Woolf irreplaceable. ... He is a scholar and gentleman of rare talent and charm," Dr. Steven Muller, then president of Johns Hopkins, told The Evening Sun at the time.

While living in Baltimore, he was a founding member and trustee of the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics Inc. He was also a founder of the Mount Washington Swim Club and a member of the Hamilton Street Club.

During his tenure at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, he tripled its endowment from $51.7 million to $187.9 million. In 1987, he stepped down to become professor at large. He assumed emeritus status in 1994.

Dr. Woolf became associated with Alex. Brown, now Deutsche Asset Management, in 1976, and served as president of the company's Flag Funds from 1997 to 1999.

His marriages to the former Anne Dudley and Patricia Kelsh ended in divorce.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Wolfensohn Hall on the institute campus in Princeton.

In addition to his son, Dr. Woolf is survived by another son, Alan Woolf of Seattle; two daughters, Susan Woolf of Seattle and Sara A. Woolf of San Francisco; a sister, Paula W. Shapiro of Ringoes, N.J.; and a granddaughter.

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