Jules Routbort, beloved husband, father and grandfather died unexpectedly at age 74 on Thursday, Mar. 1, 2012, in his home in Willowbrook, Illinois. Greatly loved by his family, he is survived by his wife of 45 years, Anja Routbort, his son, Mark Routbort and his daughter, Julia Routbort Baskin and their spouses, Jennifer Norten and Benjamin Baskin. He was also an adored and adoring “Opa” to his grandchildren Megan and Emily Routbort and Gabriel and Zachary Baskin.
Jules was born in San Francisco, Calif., on May 15, 1937 to Elaine Routbort (nee Lipman) and Jules
Lazar Routbort. He was raised by three strong women, his mother, Elaine, his aunt Rowena and his grandmother, Irene.
Although he moved many times in his life, he remained a lifelong fan of Boudoin’s sourdough bread, fresh crab and California wine. He received his BS with Honors from the University of California at Berkeley in 1960and his PhD from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 1965. Both his undergraduate and graduate degrees were in engineering physics. His postdoctoral work was at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, England and at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, New York. His scientific and professional home for the last forty-four years has been at Argonne National Laboratory, where he was most recently a senior scientist and team leader for thermal management in the Energy Systems division.
Jules was especially proud of mentoring 10 PhD students and seven postdoctoral scientists. Many of those students became lifelong friends and colleagues. He published more than 300 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, edited two books and held seven separate patents (with three patent applications pending). He received an Alexander Von Humboldt Fellowship as well as grants from the French Ministry of Science and was awarded an Iberdrola Professor Visitante at the University of Seville. He was a fellow of The American Ceramic Society.
In his professional life, Jules was unfailingly curious, hard-working and indefatigable. His scientific areas of interest were wide ranging and included work on the high-temperature mechanical properties of ceramics, the fundamentals of solid-particle erosion and the measurements of mechanical properties and diffusion in high Tc superconductors. He continued to review papers and worked with colleagues the day before his death.
Jules loved his work and he loved his family. As a husband, father and grandfather, he was devoted,
generous and energetic. He loved backpacking with his son, dancing with his wife and talking science fiction with his daughter. He traveled the world, returning from Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands weeks before his death. While he was taken from us too soon, his life was truly a life well-lived.
In lieu of flowers,donations sent to the Expanding Your Horizons network, a non-profit organization which sponsors university based programs nationwide designed to encourage young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics would be both meaningful and greatly appreciated.