Charles I. Hellman
1910 - 2017 Charles I. Hellman, who helped open the Bronx High School of Science physics department in 1939, taught two future Nobel Prize physics winners and was the longest continuously licensed amateur radio operator in the United States, has died at 106. A product of the New York City public school system, Mr. Hellman was a pioneer in amateur radio, building his first radio sets with discards from the Lee De Forest tube factory near his childhood Bronx home. Licensed as a radio operator at age 15 he completed his last radio contact on August 31, 2015. At that time the Quarter Century Wireless Association gave its first ever "90 Years of Service" award and recognized him as the longest licensed radio operator in the country. After receiving his masters degree in 1935 from City College, he obtained a physics teaching position at the original Stuyvesant H.S. in Manhattan through a grueling exam process. There he was imbued with the then popular "manual training" theory of academic education which held that academic achievement was improved by training in the manual arts including shop classes. In 1939 Mr. Hellman helped open the physics department at the new Bronx High School of Science which was modeled on Stuyvesant. He continued teaching there for 41 years, retiring in 1980. He taught two Nobel Prize winners in physics, Roy Glauber and Sheldon Glashow. In congratulating Mr. Hellman on the occasion of his 100th birthday, Glashow wrote to him, "I suspect that Mr. Hellman was largely responsible for me to have chosen to become a theoretical physicist." One of Mr. Hellman's other top students was his nephew, Martin Hellman, who later co-developed the Diffe-Hellman" cryptography key which is the basis of most internet security functions today. Charles Hellman was born Israel C. Hellman May 24, 1910 in the Bronx, one of seven children, including his brother Benjamin who survives him. He married Florence Cohen in 1936. They were loving and generous parents who raised three sons, Arthur, Jeremy and Walter Hellman. Their success and happiness in life gained immeasurably from that upbringing. In addition to his three sons he is survived by four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Florence died in 1979. From the early '80s through her death in 2009 Mr. Hellman and Mrs. Flora Chale, a widowed long-time family friend, had a wonderful companionship. Mr. Hellman's strong physics background and practical electronic experience enabled him to expertly bridge academics and technology. When the War Department asked Mr. Hellman to write a text book in electronics and radio during World War II, the result was his Elements of Radio which masterfully combined the academic and practical aspects of the field. Mr. Hellman was also an expert in photography and was the first test engineer for the Consumers Union organization. His tests were the basis for Consumer Union's camera ratings in the 1950's and early 1960's. Mr. Hellman died peacefully at his home of 55 years in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY on Jan. 25, 2017.
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