Barbara Lotze

Barbara Lotze - Obituary

January 17, 2019. Born January 4, 1924 in Mezokovesd, Hungary, Barbara moved to Budapest with her family at the age of ten. In 1956 she was awarded a diploma in applied mathematics with honors from Eötvös Lorand University of Sciences. She fled Budapest during the Hungarian Revolution and spent time in a refugee camp in Austria before receiving a Rockefeller Foundation Grant to enroll as a doctoral candidate in mathematics at Innsbruck University, where she was granted a PhD in mathematics and theoretical physics in 1961. She married her late husband, Dieter Lotze, in 1958, and they immigrated to the United States in 1961, both accepting jobs at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, and becoming naturalized citizens in 1967. Lotze was offered an Assistant Professorship in the Physics Department at Allegheny College in 1963, and became a Professor Emeritus of Physics, chair of the department from 1981-1984. She continued teaching until her retirement in 1990.

Since 1963, Lotze has been a member of the American Physical Society (APS), the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh (SSP), the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP), and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). She was a member of the Western Pennsylvania AAPT Section, serving as their Section Representative and Council member for eight years. She has also served on the Committee on Women in Physics Education and as its chairperson. During her tenure on this committee, Lotze organized some of the Association's most noteworthy sessions involving women in physics. In 1986 AAPT honored her with the Distinguished Service Citation and the Certificate of Appreciation for her important contribution to the teaching of physics.

During her career, Lotze presented numerous papers at professional meetings, organized and lectured at symposium. She served as president of the Hungarian Educators' Association, and authored, edited and contributed to multiple publications about physics and the Hungarian Revolution. In 1995, she established, through AAPT, an Endowment for the Advancement of Physics Education in the United States, which grants a stipend to Barbara Lotze Scholarship recipients. She had a passion for teaching and wanted to ensure that AAPT supported students who wanted to be future physics teachers. Though she remained active in research and publication, her primary focus was on her role as an educator.

After the passing of her husband Dieter Lotze, she married her late husband Herbert L. Retcofsky, of South Park, in 1998.


David Wolfe

Director of Communications