Amherst Magazine
dr. David S. Wollan '59

Dr. David S. Wollan died at the age of 71 at Alexandria (Va.) Hospital on Aug. 25, 2008, from related cancerous brain and lung tumors which were discovered the previous February. The former was removed in March and the latter at the end of May. During a cheerful phone conversation last spring, Dave was very optimistic and had set a goal of attending the Class of 1959 50th Reunion. Unfortunately, the second operation was very difficult, according to his wife Barbara, and Dave lost the battle three months later.

In addition to Barbara, Dave is survived by son Pierre-Yves Bertholet, daughter Sarah Standish and son-in-law Alex Standish, granddaughters Olivia and Anna Standish and his sister, Barbara Wollan.

Classmate Paul “Skip” Vonckx attended high school in Hingham, Mass., with Dave, lost out to him as class valedictorian, was a fellow physics major at Amherst and remembers Dave as warm, caring and humorous.

Dave was on the cross-country team and a member of Kappa Theta where he was remembered by Jim Wallace and others as very smart, warm and serious but with a quirky sense of humor.

After earning his M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the Univ. of Illinois in Urbana, Dave was an assistant professor of physics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute where he did research on electron and nuclear magnetic resonance of rare earth ionic crystals. In 1974, he went to the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency as a physical science officer, then went on to graduate from the National War College in 1981 and  serve on U.S. delegations to SALT II and START negotiations. In 1989, he served as chief of the Theater and Strategic Defense Division of ACDA and continued working on these issues after the ACDSA-State Dept. merger until retiring in 2008.

Dave was an avid reader, informed debater on political issues, lover of classical music, energetic hiker and ham radio enthusiast. He returned to many Class Reunions and was an effective Class agent for many years. He served in a number of capacities at Hope Church in Alexandria, including as president of the congregation. His great interest in the Bible and the philosophy of religion extended to learning to read texts in the original ancient languages.

Enjoying the company of his two beautiful, lively young granddaughters and following the Washington Nationals ball team were highlights of his retirement period. A memorial service was held on Sept. 7 at Hope Church.

—Harvey Mierke ’59

 

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