Dr Kem Woodgate, 1926-2017

Dr Kem Woodgate, 1926-2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

It is with sadness that I write to tell you of the death on 20 August of our Emeritus Fellow, Dr Gordon Kemble (‘Kem’) Woodgate, at the age of 91. He had been in ill-health for a while.

Kem Woodgate was Tutor in Physics at St Peter's from 1959 to 1991, and was one of the members of the Governing Body when St Peter’s acquired full collegiate status and its Royal Charter in 1961. He was delighted to come back for the 50th Anniversary celebrations, though by then not in the best of health. The college meant a lot to him.

He was educated at the University of Minnesota and Merton College, Oxford, and studied for his D.Phil on the interferometric investigation of the hyperfine structure of atoms under the renowned physicist, Heinrich Gerhard Kuhn (1904-1994), at Balliol.

His appointment, along with that of Dr Charles Caine, Tutor in Mathematics (1958-1991), represented a turning point in the history of the college, which had not previously had fellows specialising in specific STEM subjects.

He gained a reputation as an enthusiastic and caring teacher, whose passions stretched well-beyond physics – he was a keen violinist and bridge player, and also served as a Justice of the Peace in Oxford for many years. His research interests focused on atomic structure, and he played a pioneering role in the field of atomic beam resonance.

We send condolences to his wife, Margaret, and to all his family.

It was Kem’s wish that his body be donated to medical science, but there will likely be a memorial service at the college.

The flag will be flying at half-mast.

Mark Damazer CBE
Master, St Peter's College