Willes (Bill) H. Weber

Date of Birth

September 22, 1942

Date of Death

August 24, 2017

Willes (Bill) H. Weber died on August 24 after nearly 75 years of life well lived, being loved and admired by all who knew him. He was married to Kathleen (Barker) for 52 years and was the love of her life. He was the most wonderful father to Michael (38 years), father-in-law to Lindsey, and grandfather to Jane (3 years) and Bennett (3 months). He was also a nurturing older brother to Nancy Eubanks (CA) and James Weber (MI). He was a renowned physicist in the area of laser spectroscopy, a connoisseur of fine wine, an avid fly fisherman, an accomplished bridge player, a tenacious Scrabble player, and a skilled baseball, volleyball and tennis player.

Bill was born in Reno, NV, on September 22, 1942, where he excelled as a student and athlete. He graduated from Caltech in 1964 and received his PhD in physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1968. Most of his career was spent at the Ford Motor Company, Scientific Research Laboratory, Dearborn, MI, where he pursued basic physics research for 35 years. During this time he was also an Adjunct Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he and Kathy lived and raised their son.

After retiring in 2004, he and Kathy moved to Santa Barbara and started a new chapter in their lives, with great new friends, new interests and activities, and much better weather. Bill kept up with physics as editor of the American Physical Society’s Physical Review B through 2013. He was also an active supporter of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at UCSB.

Bill volunteered at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and eventually became the senior Captain of Ranger, the Museum’s flagship, taking hundreds of people over the years for cruises along the Santa Barbara coast. He and Kathy supported the arts, including the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the Ensemble Theatre Company.

Bill’s long and rewarding life was nevertheless cut too short by a serious infection following what should have been routine surgery. The speed with which this infection took his life is a terrible tragedy and a shock to us all.

Cremation has taken place, and a celebration of his life will be held at a later date. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers or other tributes, donations in his name be made to the Ranger Restoration Fund, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93109.


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