George Horton
Memorial website in the memory of your loved one

This memorial website was created in the memory of George Horton who was born in Germany on July 30, 1926 and passed away on November 1, 2009 at the age of 83.   This site was created as a place where those who had the fortune of knowing George could share their thoughts and memories. 

Click here to see George Horton's
Family Tree
Tributes and Condolences
Will always remember his imparted knowledge   / Javier Rosa (Student)
I was a student of Professor Horton's in 2008 for an all too brief semester. I enjoyed his lectures and his style was incredibly compelling. I'm saddened to hear of his passing, but glad so see that so many others enjoyed his work as much or more so ...  Continue >>
Why I love Physics Today   / Steve Shoopak (Student)
I took an intensive course in Physics with Prof. Horton back around Summer '85 over on the Busch campus.  They were still building SERC, and I remember Prof. Horton making it a delightful and educational time for me.  He never refused to an...  Continue >>
A eulogy to my father   / Jonathan Horton (Son)
Tribute to George K. Horton by Jonathan C. Horton Rutgers University 12 Maart 2010 On behalf of the Horton family thank you for sharing this afternoon with us in memory of our father. The tributes we have heard from former students colleagues and fri...  Continue >>
Very Sad News Indeed   / Howard Levine (Student and Admirer )
I was a graduate student in physics during the mid and late 1970's and got to know Prof Horton as a teaching assistant.  Back in those days we could earn another $300 a semester for teaching an additional section and believe me this was dear mon...  Continue >>
The Consummate Teacher   / Dave Maiullo (Student, colleaque, and friend )
I first knew George as an undergraduate student when I was attending Rutgers in 1979. I also worked for and with George over the past 25 years in the Lecture Demonstration facility of the RU Physics Dept. In many ways George was a "larger than...  Continue >>
Sad news  / Alex Maradudin (Collaborator)    Read >>
GKH and Rutgers are part of my life  / Mike Klein (Post-doc)    Read >>
My memories of George Horton  / Phyllis Zatlin (AAUP colleague )    Read >>
My hero!  / Judith Stern (colleague & friend )    Read >>
Mr Mineral Water  / Jangchub Daniel Bowles (Nephew)    Read >>
...a typical act of kindness...  / Roger Cowley (friend and collaborator )    Read >>
Dr. G. K. Horton , Mensch  / Robert Feldman (Quantum mechanics marker )    Read >>
ps / Peter Lindenfeld (friend and colleague )    Read >>
a note to all  / Peter Lindenfeld (friend and colleague )    Read >>
note to all  / Peter Lindenfeld (friend and colleague )    Read >>
More tributes and condolences...
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His legacy
By Friend and Colleague Mike Klein  
George Klaus Horton George: • Our interaction spanned five decades. • We had 14 joint publications (1968-71). • Please forgive me. • But I never realized until now … “K” stands for Klaus! We first met at the International Conference on Low Temperature Physics (LT10) which was held on the campus of Queen Mary College University of London in September 1962. GKH was 36 years old and a recent addition to the faculty at Rutgers. I was 22 years old and had just published my first paper in the Physical Review. At the meeting GKH offered me a post-doc to work on the Dynamics of Rare Gas Solids. I think GKH had an Air Force grant to work on Rare Gas Dynamics. Apparently the program officer did not understand the difference between the two themes! Alas I had just finished my first year as a grad student and so not yet available. At the meeting GKH offered me a post-doc to work on the Dynamics of Rare Gas Solids. I think GKH had an Air Force grant to work on Rare Gas Dynamics. Apparently the program officer did not understand the difference between the two themes! Alas I had just finished my first year as a grad student and so not yet available. But we stayed in touch ! And after submitting my PhD thesis in Juli 1964 I set off to spend 3 months with GKH before taking up my research fellowship in Italy. Brenda and I flew from London to New York. Typical of the man GKH drove from home in Princeton to collect us at Idlewild airport. GKH drove a very large early 1950’s Dodge which he told us had belonged to Einstein. As we traveled to New Brunswick on the NJ turnpike the car ran out of gas ironically near all the oil refineries. GKH calmly parked on the hard shoulder and set off to find gas leaving us for what seemed an eternity in this horrific landscape. GKH eventually returned when it was dark. Then we were on our way to the Rutgers campus where we were soon installed in the married student’s quarters which had been part of a WWII army base. Hospitality was overwhelming coming as we were from the UK where everyone was addressed by the last names. Henry Torrey sold me an old Nash Metropolitan for one dollar! And Joe Feldman taught me to drive it on the Rutgers football stadium parking lot. Life was good. I had a very productive time with the Horton group although the fruits of this visit came in later publications. Typical of GKH he found a job for Brenda in Richard Plano’s bubble chamber group; she came with excellent credentials from Cecil Powell Nobel Laureate of Pi-meson fame. We had great fun in the new Physics Building – GKH had a corner office. I have fond memories of GKH’s friendly neighbors Bernie Serin Bill McLean and of course Peter Lindenfeld. At George’s invitation I returned to Rutgers again during the summer of 1966 and our productive collaboration continued. But some of our results were difficult to rationalize against ideas prevailing in text books. So GKH encouraged me to seek advice from Rudi Peierls after I returned to the UK. The visit to Peierls at New College Oxford is a story for another day but Peierls’ advice: “Don’t believe all you read in books!” was a wonderful confidence builder for a young scientist. Soon after the Peierls incident GKH visited me and advised me to leave the UK and the discouraging situation faced by its young academics. So Juli 7th 1967 the Klein family sailed to New York on the Queen Elizabeth to start a new life at Rutgers. But the timing was bad in many ways. Soon after arriving at Rutgers I was offered a permanent research position at NRC in Canada. These were turbulent times in the city streets and campuses of the US. So I departed for Canada in fall 1968. But we stayed in touch ! GKH visited me in Ottawa to finish his chapter for a book that I was editing. Indeed in the early 1970’s GKH was instrumental in counseling Brenda to start back to work even though we had 2 young kids at home. His timely advice started Brenda along the road to a successful career. George: We both thank you for that perceptive and thoughtful intervention in our lives! We all know that GKH was beyond passionate about teaching! And he did his best to infect everyone he could (including me) with this disease! GKH came up with a scheme to bring me back to Rutgers each year namely teach in the summer physics program. Since MJ Stephen’s office was always empty there was a ready place available for me near GKH. This annual pilgrimage lasted a decade or so. So GKH and Rutgers Physics are in my soul. I returned to the US in the1980’s and soon helped revamp the freshman chemistry experience at Penn to included many live demonstrations. George: You did manage to infect me after all! Moreover my section had 350 kids! When I became LRSM director at Penn I no longer had time for teaching large classes. So for the past two decades I have followed the advice George gave me on departing Rutgers in 1968: “Research fashions come and go – just keep doing what you enjoy.” George: Thank you for this valuable advice! George: I regret that at the end we drifted apart – I have no excuses other than being overwhelmed with responsibilities including trying to emulate your example of putting people first. George: You were the perfect mentor. You were instrumental in launching me on my independent career. I owe you so much. George: You have enriched our lives. We are left with cherished memories: Your friendship first and foremost; Your unwavering affection and support; Your sage council; Your generosity; And so much more. You are a hero to all of us here today! Pamela Lisa Jonathon and Belinda : Be strong ! George has touched the lives of thousands of people. And he was beloved by all of them. George’s legacy is immense. George: Thank you ! Six decades of tireless work for others. We imagined you would be with us for ever. We will miss you. Mei you rest in peace! Mike Klein
By George's Daughter Belinda  
To Dad: In Memorium Maart 12 2010 I am here today to say a few words about my Dad the person who along with my Mom had the biggest influence on my life. There are two quotes that I believe in many ways defined Dad’s life. They come from the Kennedy brothers whom he greatly admired. Ted Kennedy ended is eulogy to Robert Kennedy with Robert’s own words “Some men see things as they are and ask 'Why?' I dream things that never were and ask 'Why not?" In everything that I have been known about Dad and have heard today it is clear that Dad was a big dreamer—the physics learning center the gateway program the AAUP the Rutgers’s Community Health Plan the lecture hall we are standing in his own children. He dreamed big he never took “no” for an answer he never considered defeat—even though his struggle to keep his beloved son David alive--finally eluded him. Even after that debilitating struggle against the grueling forces of fate and destiny he emerged bloody but only temporarily bowed. He and Mom never forgot—and they would call me on Feb. 1 David’s death date and Maart 22 David’s birth date to remind us of our wondrous and courageous brother. And Dad kept on dreaming for the good of physics for students for Rutgers and for his family. John F. Kennedy said to the nation “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” I believe that Dad rewrote this quote in the following manner “Ask not what other people can do for you but what you can do for other people.” This defined him as a person. He “did” constantly for students faculty staff and family. I was touched by a story on the memorial site where Dad collected money for student’s dental costs—and I know he collected for others in need. Though the AAUP he spent innumerable hours helping those who had been discriminated against and whose careers and livelihoods hung in the balance. The Health Plan was to help people faced with catastrophic illnesses and had used up all of their annual benefits. He gave people second and third chances and he emulated Portia’s famous statement in The Merchant of Venice regarding the pound of flesh “the quality of mercy is not strained it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.” He published over a hundred scientific papers—these were produced in addition to all his other activities. On a personal note so much of what I am today I owe to him. The European influence his great love and appreciation of culture his determination for us to appreciate the fine arts his adherence to high standards and expectations. He and Mom took us often to our anticipation in the early years of excruciating boredom to opera to theater to films directed at a much older viewership. All the kids learned to play musical instruments and later we encouraged our children to play instruments. I was always regarded as somewhat unique by my friends. We were allowed and expected to do things that only normally only much older children would do. For example for my 12th birthday Mom and Dad gave me two subscriptions to the New York Opera. This meant that I had to find a friend whose parents were willing to allow her to go in to NYC alone from Princeton. This was almost impossible. It was quite a big trip with Suburban transit to Port Authority to Lincoln center and then back. I first flew to Europe alone on a 24 hour flight via Newfoundland Iceland Scotland to Luxembourg and then took a bus to Frankfurt to meet my grandparents when I was about ten or twelve. Mom and Dad enjoyed gourmet food and fine restaurants. Dad used to go to Zabars in NYC on the way home from cultural events and to European restaurants in Yorkville which has since disappeared. He was a great cook and could produce gourmet meals out of a hat. He was great at woodwork and remodeling. In Princeton we had the only house with a wall papered garage where Mom and Dad had practiced in anticipation for wall papering the rest of the house. Dad always wanted a successful rose garden. He planted one for several years in the back yard at Philip Dr. but it always got attacked and destroyed by Beetles. He always encouraged us to think big. Once I said I wanted to be a nurse. He said why don’t you want to be a doctor? A lawyer a business person? At one point he wanted me to be a hospital administrator and had me meet with him and Roger Birnbaum at Barnard to discuss career possibilities. When I said I wanted to be a teacher he said “why not be a professor?” Over the many decades of my career and its ups and downs he was always there to support me advise me and back me up. He would back me up with a tenacity that I have encountered again in myself. There are so many things that we had in common. We both loved a good deal. No matter how busy he was at work he would still always try to find the best buy. He would always visit multiple stores to get the best price. In grocery shopping he knew where the best deal and best quality was at each store and he would go from store to store even when he could barely walk near the end. Dad was enormously proud. He was proud of his family and he was proud in another way. He would never use a cane even as his walking deteriorated and his balance became unsteady. We were petrified that he would fall and injure himself. We brought him canes that he would disdainfully ignore. He simply would not succumb would not give up. When he finally started using a walker—that was a bad sign. Something that made a huge impression on me as I was growing up was book that Dad had kept as a youth of famous quotes that he really admired. I used to read it often as an impressionable kid. Although I don’t know what happened to this book I remember this poem which I think describes him so well—although he was not at all religiously inclined. I think it paraphrases Dad’s character—a person who for better or for worse never took “no” for an answer never gave up never stopped striving and who hauled himself up and down the arduous steps to the physic lecture hall stage and his dearly beloved students until his final days. For better or for worse this was his life. Invictus by William Ernest Henley Out of the night that covers me Black as the Pit from pole to pole I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade And yet the menace of the years Finds and shall find me unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate How charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
Lessons From George  
There are tens of thousands of students whose lives are forever changed because no one leaves a George Horton course without having been enriched. There are thousands of female and ethnic minority students who are now practicing engineers and scientists because of George’s foresight good heart and elbow grease. There are thousands of colleagues friends and family who are in some significant way better off today because George helped them out of a very difficult time. And that doesn’t even include his contributions to physics nor the family he’s created! LESSON 1: You can’t ask people to work hard if you don’t work hard. And when you ask have a warm smile on your face. LESSON 2: Benevolence is our most important function as human beings. LESSON 3: Treat the ones you love with kind words and consideration. LESSON 4: Take time to plan for 10 years from now. Let your imagination be your guide and don’t ever stop dreaming. LESSON 5: If you want students to retain what you say write it on the chalkboard.
Professional Legacy  

George Horton Professor II of physics at Rutgers University left a legacy in a variety of areas during his long career.

George received his Ph D in 1949 at Birmingham University in the UK under Sir Rudolph Peierls. After doing a post-doc in Zurich he moved to the University of Alberta in Canada in 1951. In 1960 he came to Rutgers as chair of the physics department at Douglass college. The spring semester 2010 would have been his 100th semester at Rutgers.

George was a theoretical condensed matter theorist with a specialization in lattice dynamics particularly in strongly anharmonic crystals.  As late as in 2003 he still published on this subject. He authored over 100 scientific papers, books and chapters.

He had a long and lasting impact on the department and on Rutgers. He was a popular and loved teacher and did important work related to the teaching of physics both locally and nationally. He created the Physics Learning Center (now the Math and Science Learning Center) the Gateway program and was very active in forming the AAUP chapter at Rutgers. He was also the central figure in establishing an HMO at Rutgers which very significantly improved the health benefits for all his colleagues here. He received many honors for his work such as the Georgina Smith Award from the AAUP "For Creative and Distinguished Leadership" the presidential Award for Distinguished Public Service the Sussman Award for Excellence in Teaching Best Teacher of the Year Award and several more.

In all that George acheived in his life he will forever be remembered for his heart of gold. Many students and colleagues turned to George when they needed help most because they knew he could help and wouldn't stop until he succeeded. His perseverant iron fist wore a velvet glove - a combination that gave him the unique ability to bring about meaningful change for the benefit of all.