2005-04-15 / Community

Museum Tracks Down FRHS Nobel Laureates

By Howard Schwach

Richard FeynmanRichard Feynman Volunteers at the Rockaway Museum, doing some research for the upcoming “Far Rockaway High School Revisited” exhibit, came upon an interesting and exciting historic fact recently.

It seems that Far Rockaway High School is the only high school in the entire nation to have graduated three Nobel Laureates. While this sounds improbable, the volunteers, many with credentials as minor historians, have not been able to find another high school in the entire United States who have graduated even as many as three who have won the Nobel Prize.

“This is a very important component of the high school’s history,” says Susan Locke, the museum’s director. “The three men will become a prominent part of the exhibit and the two living laureates have been invited to Rockaway for the exhibit’s fundraiser on June 12.”

Burton Richter  Burton Richter Their story will be only part of the FRHS history that will be unviled at the Rockaway Museum when the new exhibit opens. That exhibit will include many yearbooks, athletic memorabalia, pictures of school events and of those who went away to fight World War II and never returned. The Nobel Lauriates will make up only part of the exhibit. Of the three who wond the award, perhaps the most famous is Richard P. Feynman, who recently was featured in the hit movie, “A Beautiful Mind.” Feynman, who grew up in Far Rockaway, graduated from FRHS in 1935. He studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then at Princeton University, where he got his PhD in 1942.

Baruch S. BlumbergBaruch S. Blumberg A theoretical physicist, Feynman was called to work on the “Manhattan Project” at the University of Chicago, the project that developed the atomic bomb for the United States, the device that allowed our nation to end the war. After the war, he went to the California Institute of Technology, where he stayed for many years. He was presented with the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965. He died in California in February of 1988.

Baruch S. Blumberg graduated from Far Rockaway High School in 1943 and went directly into the U.S. Navy and World War II. He was sent to college by the Navy and trained as a deck officer in landing ships and served as the commander of an LST during a number of landings towards the end of the war.

After medical school, Blumberg returned to the sea for a while as a ship’s surgeon. He began his graduate work at Columbia University in 1946.

During his time in medical school, Blumberg went on a trip to Moengo, an isolated mining town in Northern Surinam. That sparked his interest in research and in diseases.

In 1976, Dr. Blumberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of the hepatitis B virus.

He is presently the Senior Advisor to the President of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Pennsylvania.

Burton Richter graduated from Far Rockaway High School in 1948. The Rockaway resident studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology unsure if he wanted to work in chemistry or physics.Through his coursework, however, he soon became interested in nuclear problems and particle physics.Moving on to Stanford University’s High Energy Physics Laboratory, he began the work that led to his being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1976. He is presently the Director Emeritus of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

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