ACerS remembers its members who have come before us and their contributions to the field.
The most recent obituary appears below. Links to previous remembrances are listed in the order in which we received them.
Please contact Eileen De Guire to provide a notice or update.
|Charles R. Kurkjian|
PORTLAND – Charles R. Kurkjian, 93, passed away on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023 at his home at Birchwoods with his loving family by his side.
Kurkjian was born on Dec. 7, 1929, to Esther and John G. Kurkjian in Asbury Park, N.J. He was very proud of the fact that his father was an immigrant who fled to the United States at the time of the Armenian Genocide, and continued to support Armenian causes throughout his lifetime.
He graduated from Asbury Park High School in 1947, obtained a BSc. from Rutgers University in 1952, and earned his Sc D in Ceramics and Materials Science at MIT in 1955. While working at MIT, he met the lovely and talented Dorothy Alice Mazzarella, and they were married in June of 1955; they raised three children and traveled extensively before her death in 2009.
Kurkjian spent most of his life studying the behavior of glass. After a two-year post-doc at MIT and two more years in England, he joined AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J. in 1959 where he spent 35 years working on glass behavior, specializing in the mechanical properties of silica optical fibers. For this work he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. After retiring from Bell Labs in 1994, he joined Bellcore, the so-called Bell Labs of the Baby Bells.
After retiring from Bellcore in 1999, Kurkjian spent two years as a research fellow at Rutgers until 2011. For several years he was affiliated with the University of Southern Maine in Gorham, and was an emeritus research professor at Rutgers in Material Science. During his tenure at Bell Labs he held several academic positions internationally including Cairo Egypt, the UK, the former USSR, South Korea, and Japan.
After retiring, he continued to collaborate with researchers worldwide, and was beloved as a mentor by many of his former students.
Kurkjian honors included the Morey Award, Glass Division, American Ceramic Society (1987), Rutgers University Distinguished Engineers Award (2014), and the L. David Pye Lifetime Achievement Award (2019), during which he gave a terrific acceptance speech to a packed auditorium despite having suffered a stroke in 2017.
With all his academic and career achievements, Kurkjian remained humble and was a patient grandfather; he would assist anyone who asked for help and would wholeheartedly support family and friends in any and all of their endeavors. Kurkjian was an avid tennis player and skier, and continued to ride a bicycle into his 80s. Along with his wife, Dorrie, he loved spending time with his family and eight grandchildren, who affectionately called him “PopPop” and will treasure memories of his characteristic jovial laugh and unending stories. They even made him a T-shirt: “Cool story PopPop, tell it again!”.
Kurkjian and Dorrie especially delighted in family ski trips out west, and the annual excursions to the Jersey shore with the grandchildren.
Kurkjian loved all kinds of music but was particularly fond of jazz and classical. He enjoyed many concerts at the Portland Conservatory of Music, and was an ardent supporter of the Daponte String Quartet. Despite having grown up in the Rube Goldberg era, Chuck embraced all forms of technology, to the point where he had lengthy conversations with “Hey Google”! and more USB cords and charging devices than the rest of the family combined. He loved a good lobster roll and any type of ice cream.
Kurkjian was predeceased by his wife, Dorrie; and his brother, Richard.
He is survived by his sister, Janet Kurkjian Sexton of Estero, Fla.; his daughters Karen and her husband, John Attwood of Pownal, Lynne and her husband, Steve Seibert of Cincinnati, Ohio, and son, Robert of Pasadena, Calif.; as well as his grandchildren Sheree Seibert, Charlie Seibert (spouse Leanne), Michelle Gadker (spouse Tyler), Abbie Attwood (spouse Jeb Burchenal), Emily Attwood, and Aren, Vahn, and Narek Kurkjian. We are all better because of you and we will miss you. Thank you Dad.
His family would like to thank the staff at Birchwoods at Canco and Northern Light Hospice for the excellent and compassionate care they provided in the last months of his life, as well as Bob Ashton for his friendship the last few years.
There will be a private family service at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Kurkjian’s memory can be made to: Maine Public Radio at www.mainepublic.org
Obituary provide by The Portland Press Herald.
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