Donald Lawrence Strandburg

Donald Lawrence Strandburg - Obituary

March 16, 1930 – July 13, 2022 — Donald Strandburg, low temperature physicist and former chair of the physics department at San Jose State University, passed away on July 13 at the age of 92, following a heart attack. Born in Sioux City, Iowa, to a working class family, Donald graduated summa cum laude from Morningside College. After postponing his graduate studies for a stint in the army at Fort Detrick, Maryland, he completed his PhD in Physics at Iowa State University. During his tour of duty, Donald married Patricia (nee Pentony), a fellow summa cum laude Morningside graduate, in Sioux City, Iowa on June 20, 1954. After teaching for a few years at Santa Clara University, Donald joined San Jose State’s faculty in 1964, eventually serving as department chair for many years until he retired in 1994. Though retired for nearly thirty years at the time of his death, Donald never lost his passion for physics, reading avidly and engaging in many discussions about it with his physicist-turned-law professor daughter Kathy Strandburg and her partner, Argonne physicist Wai-Kwong Kwok (and anyone else who would listen).

Donald was known among family and friends for his quiet and easy-going manner, his dry wit and terrible puns, his ability to relate to people of all backgrounds, his belief that a physicist can do anything, and his continuing eagerness to learn and to try new things.

Above all else, Donald was a devoted husband and family man. He will be sorely missed by Patricia, his wife of 68 years, their three children, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, his sister, and many other family members with whom he maintained close relationships.

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, August 20 at 1:00 P.M. at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church, 728 West Fremont Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94087-High-Quality masks are required.
Zoom code: 89943134587
Donations in Donald’s memory may be sent to American Assoc. of Physics Teachers Donations, Memorial Fund, 1 Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740-3845 or submitted online at:


David Wolfe

Director of Communications

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