George and Barbara Goedecke create legacy in the department of physics
When George and Barbara Goedecke moved
to Las Cruces in 1961, George had just completed his Ph.D. in physics at
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. At the time they arrived
they had no way of knowing that New Mexico State University and the
surrounding environs of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County would still be
the center of their world more than half a century later.
Beyond George’s work in the
university’s physics department, the Goedeckes found numerous activities
to pursue. It didn’t take them long to discover the Southwestern
Mountaineers, a local group of outdoor enthusiasts who introduced them
to rock climbing in the Organ Mountains. “I think we climbed every route
on every peak in the Organs during the ‘60’s and ‘70’s,” George says.
During the heyday of their
mountaineering adventures they climbed Mt Whitney, the Grand Teton,
Shiprock, several of the highest peaks in Colorado and New Mexico, and
backpacked extensively in the Gila and Pecos wilderness areas. They also
skied at Sierra Blanca / Ski Apache and many other areas throughout the
Rocky Mountains as members of the National Ski Patrol System. George
was appointed a National Ski Patrolman and also served one year as ski
patrol leader at Sierra Blanca.
George is also a musician, playing
clarinet and saxophone. He was a member of the Sunshine Jazz Band of El
Paso, the Creole Dixieland Jazz Band of Las Cruces, and still plays
with the Creole Trio.
Barbara received a BA in biology and
chemistry from Skidmore College, and earned her master’s degree from the
NMSU department of biology. She subsequently worked in the rabies lab
of the CDC substation based on campus. She later earned a teaching
certificate from NMSU and worked as a substitute teacher in the Las
Cruces Public Schools system.
The students in the physics department
became a major part of their lives and now, nearly 20 years after
retirement, they still are. Although he retired from full-time teaching
in 1995, as professor emeritus George continues to teach courses, mentor
students, participate in seminars and author papers with his current
and former students.
George’s career covered all areas in
the department. His general research area is theoretical physics, with
specializations in general relativity, quantum mechanics, mathematical
methods, electromagnetism, optics, plasma physics, and acoustics. He
taught almost all the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the
department. He served two terms in the NMSU Faculty Senate, including
two years as chair of that body. He served as physics department head
from 1988-95 and was always looking for ways to attract quality graduate
students to study at NMSU.
He is still doing that. The Goedeckes
have created an endowment that supports the George and Barbara Goedecke
Physics Excellence Fund. Between current and future estate gifts, their
fund will support “exemplary graduate students who will sustain
excellence in physics education and research.” A portion of their gift
will name the George and Barbara Goedecke Conference Room in the
department. The Goedeckes are now members of the university’s 1888
Society which celebrates individuals who are supporting NMSU’s future
through estate gifts.
Department head Dr. Stefan Zollner
believes this gift will have a major impact on the physics department.
“This generous donation can supplement assistantships for excellent
graduate students. It will allow us to recruit and retain more students,
especially those from the region.”