Monday, March 26, 2018

Donald Glaser (1926-2013): Nobel Prize Laureate

Donald Glaser
Donald Glaser was born on September 21, 1926, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Russian Jewish immigrants, Lena and William J. Glaser.. He enjoyed music and played the piano, violin, and viola. He went to Cleveland Heights High School, where he became interested in physics as a means to understand the physical world.

Glaser completed his Bachelor of Science degree in physics and mathematics from Case School of Applied Science in 1946. He completed his Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1949. Glaser accepted a position as an instructor at the University of Michigan in 1949, and was promoted to professor in 1957. He joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley, in 1959, as a Professor of Physics. 

While teaching at Michigan, Glaser began to work on experiments that led to the creation of the bubble chamber, an apparatus designed to make the tracks of ionizing particles visible as a row of bubbles in a liquid. The bubble chamber enabled him to observe the paths and lifetimes of particles. He was awarded the 1960 Nobel Prize for Physics for his invention, The bubble chamber allowed scientists to observe what happens to high-energy beams from an accelerator, thus paving the way for many important discoveries.

Starting in 1962, Glaser changed his field of research to molecular biology, starting with a project on ultraviolet-induced cancer. In 1964, he was given the additional title of Professor of Molecular Biology.

Fermilab's Bubble Chamber
Glaser received many honors in addition to the Nobel Prize, including the Henry Russell Award for distinction and promise in teaching and research, the Charles Vernon Boys Prize of the Physical Society for distinction in experimental physics, the American Physical Society Prize for his contributions to experimental physics, and an honorary degree of Doctor of Science by the Case Institute of Technology.

In 1971, with two others, he helped found one of the first biotechnology companies, the Cetus Corporation, which developed the cancer therapies interleukin-2 and interferon. The company was sold in 1991 to Chiron Corporation.

He died in his sleep at the age of 86 on February 28, 2013 in Berkeley, California.

SOURCE: Berkeley Lab, Nobel Prize website, Wikipedia, NY Times

John Coghlan (1835-1879): U.S. Congressman

John Coghlan
John Maxwell Coghlan was born in Louisville, Kentucky and moved with his parents to Illinois in 1847, and then to California in 1850 during the California Gold Rush. The family settled in Suisun City, where he went later practiced law.

He was a member of the California State Assembly from 1865-67, representing the 18th District. He was subsequently elected as a Republican to represent California's 3rd District in the 42nd Congress, serving from 1871-73.

He was the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California from 1876 to 1878, and was appointed Chief Justice of the Territorial Utah Supreme Court by President Ulysses S. Grant, but declined to serve. Coghlan said he refused the position, because he preferred San Francisco to Salt Lake City.

He practiced law in Oakland, California until his death at his home in Alameda at the age of 43.

SOURCES: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, Los Angeles Herald, History of San Francisco (Clarke Publishing, 1931)

Warren Bechtel (1872-1933): Founder of engineering firm Bechtel Corporation

Burial site of Warren Bechtel
Warren Abraham Bechtel was born on September 12, 1872 and raised on a farm in Freeport, Illinois, which is 25 miles east of the Mississippi River.  He was a restless, energetic teenager who found time for school, farm and store chores, and the slide trombone. After graduation, he had a brief fling as a traveling musician, but realized that he couldn’t make a living with his trombone.

He went on to found the Bechtel Corporation, one of the world's largest engineering and construction services firms.

He worked as an employee of the burgeoning United States railroad industry in 1898 after his Oklahoma cattle ranch failed.

Over the next 20 years, Bechtel built a sizable contracting business that specialized in railroad and highway building. One of Bechtel's earliest major contracts was grading the site of the Oroville, California depot for the Western Pacific Railroad, then under construction.

In 1919, Warren Bechtel and his partners (including his brother Arthur) built the Klamath Highway in California, and in 1921 Warren Bechtel partners won a contract to build the water tunnels for the Caribou Hydroelectric Facility in that state. In 1925, Warren A. Bechtel's sons Warren Jr., Stephen, and Ken joined him and incorporated as W.A. Bechtel Company. In 1926, the new company won its first major contract, the Bowman Lake dam in California. The firm would later help engineer the famous Hoover Dam over the Colorado River, still considered the largest civil engineering project in U.S. history.
 
Bechtel died of an accidental insulin overdose while visiting Moscow in 1933. His son, Stephen D. Bechtel Sr., took over the firm upon his father's death.

Sources: Bechtel Corporation; Wikipedia

Sunday, March 25, 2018

John Glascock (1845-1913):Oakland Mayor; Congressman

John Raglan Glascock
John Raglan Glascock was a mayor, district attorney and member of Congress.

He was born in Panola County, Mississippi on August 25, 1845 and moved to San Francisco in 1856 with his parents. He attended local public schools before graduating from the second class of the University of California at Berkeley in 1865. He went back East to study law at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, returning to California to practice law after graduating.

In 1875, he was elected to a single term as District Attorney of Alameda County. He went on to serve a single term in Congress as a Democrat from 1883-1885, losing his reelection race.

However, two years later he was selected to serve as mayor of Oakland on the Citizen's ticket and served from 1887-1890. After leaving City Hall, he returned to his private law practice, Glascock & Howard. He also served as President of the Alameda County Bar Association.

He died at his country home in Woodside, California on November 10, 1913, where he had moved from Berkeley to be closer to his brother-in-law Alexander Baldwin. Glascock suffered from heart disease and asthma at the end of his life, missing his only Cal-Stanford game before dying.

Oakland Tribune, The Roots of Justice: Crime and Punishment in Alameda County, Annals of the Congress of the United States

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Frank Ogawa (1917-1994): First Japanese-American on Oakland City Council

Frank Ogawa
Outside Garden Mausoleum II, Wall #299 #4

Frank Hirao Ogawa was a civil rights leader and the first Japanese American to serve on the Oakland City Council, where he served from 1966 until his death in 1994. Ogawa was a Republican, but never held any partisan office.

Upon his death, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to rename City Hall Plaza in his honor as Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. The plaza displays a bronze bust of Ogawa. 

A Nisei, Ogawa was born in Lodi, California and never lived in Japan. Nevertheless, as Japanese Americans, Ogawa's family members were involuntarily relocated by the U.S. government to the Topaz War Relocation Center in Millard County, Utah; they were detained there for the duration of World War II. Ogawa married Grace Ogawa (née Hiruma) prior to their wartime detention and they had two children, Alan and Nancy. Nancy was born in the Topaz War Relocation Center but died at age 2.

Burial site of Ogawa family
After the war, Ogawa returned to Oakland where he found work as a gardener. Eventually, he borrowed and saved enough money to open his own nursery.

Ogawa was a member of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) from 1972 to 1988, having been appointed to the Commission by the Association of Bay Area Governments. Ogawa served on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board of Directors from 1979 until 1992 when he had to retire from the Board because of health issues. He served as Chairman of the Board during most of 1987 and served as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board's Executive Committee and Personnel Committee.

More than 600 people, including a representative of Oakland's sister city of Fukuoka, Japan, attended Ogawa's memorial service. 

[Reprinted from Wikipedia - edited]