April 14, 2004--The following tribute was presented by Tsu-Wei Chou, Jerzy L. Nowinski Professor of Mechanical Engineering, at the General Faculty Meeting on April 12.
Prof. Jerzy Leon Nowinski died on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2004, at the age of 98 at Millcroft Health Care Center in Newark, Del. Nowinski was H. Fletcher Brown Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering.
The headline in the Wilmington News Journal read UD Luminary Jerzy Nowinski Dies. But those who knew Nowinski realized that he was more than just a bright light as a retired faculty member. He was also a noted scientist in his native country of Poland, a World War II hero, a devoted husband and a loving friend.
Dr. Nowinski was born in 1905 and received his master of civil engineering and doctor of technical sciences degrees from the Polytechnic Institute of Warsaw. Before World War II, he was a senior researcher in the Polish Aeronautical Institute. During the war, he and his wife, Marie, became part of the Polish Resistance, providing a haven in secret rooms in their home for downed Allied pilots. After the war, Nowinski used his engineering skills to help rebuild the city of Warsaw. For all of these efforts, he received a number of honors, medals and awards, including an officer Cross of Polonia Restituta, a Gold Medal of Merit, a Government Scientific Award, Silver and Gold Awards for the reconstruction of Warsaw and an M.T. Huber Scientific Prize.
In 1957, Dr. Nowinksi defected to the United States while serving as a visiting lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University. His family joined him, and in 1958 the United States government granted them asylum. It was a dream that he had always held--to eventually come to America.
Dr. Nowinski made the most of the opportunities afforded him in his new country. He spent time as a faculty member at the universities of Wisconsin and Texas and then joined the University of Delaware in 1961. Delaware would become his home for the next four-plus decades. His work in engineering mechanics was so well-respected that he became the first faculty member at UD honored with a professorship in his name during his lifetime.
During his career at Delaware, he earned many awards, served as a reviewer for several professorial periodicals, journals and scientific societies; edited and authored a number of books; and published more than 240 articles in a variety of scientific fields.
Despite his renown, however, Dr. Nowinski will be remembered for much more than just his scientific accomplishments and his war-time heroism. He was a long-time friends to the Newark Police Department; when he died, the funeral procession was escorted by eight police motorcycles and three patrol cars. A Newark Police Department officers award was named in honor of the Nowinskis for their contributions and support.
Dr. Nowinksi retired in 1973 but continued to conduct research, publish papers and work with students. One of those students was Bryan Cheeseman, whom George and Marie supported and took into their home as a family member. As the Nowinskis aged, their roles shifted, and Bryan continued to visit George twice every day, once at lunchtime and again for dinner.
Like many who lead very long lives, George Nowinski outlived not only his wife of 67 years, but also his other relatives and friends. His obituary cited just one survivor: his devoted, loving friend, Bryan Cheeseman of Newark. Nowinski may have left behind only one survivor, but he was remembered by many at his funeral. His former students came from as far away as Japan.
Jan. 9, 2004--Jerzy L. Nowinski, 98, H. Fletcher Brown Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, died Saturday, Jan. 3, at Millcroft Health Care Center in Newark.
Dr. Nowinski and his wife, Marie, who died in 1997, were both courageous members of the Polish Resistance during World War II. Braving the threat of death from the Nazis, they engineered secret rooms in their home, which was utilized as a safe house and hospital by members of the Resistance and Allied fliers who had been shot down and were being smuggled to safety.
Born March 2, 1905, in Poland, Dr. Nowinski received his master of civil engineering and doctor of technical sciences degrees from the Polytechnic Institute of Warsaw. In the years before World War II, he was a senior researcher in the Polish Aeronautical Institute and later held the positions of Extraordinary Professor of Applied Mechanics in the Mathematical Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Research Professor in the Institute of Fundamental Problems of Technology.
After the war, Dr. Nowinski was one of the lead engineers whose efforts were instrumental in the reconstruction of the city of Warsaw. For his scientific contributions in Poland, he was awarded an Officer Cross of Polonia Restituta, a Gold Medal of Merit, a Government Scientific Award, Silver and Gold Awards for the reconstruction of Warsaw and a M.T. Huber Scientific Prize. In 1957, he was invited to become a visiting lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University, and after his family escaped from Poland to join him, he defected to the United States, where he went on to become a professor at the universities of Wisconsin and then Texas, before joining the faculty at the University of Delaware in 1961.
From 1961-1973, he was the H. Fletcher Brown Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. During that period in which the department grew significantly, he was the academic leader and senior member of the department. Upon his retirement, the department initiated the Nowinski Lecture, which is given annually. The list of Nowinski lecturers, which appears on a plaque in the department office, reads like a Who's Who of Applied Mechanics.
Dr. Nowinski was the first faculty member on the campus to have a named professorship established in his honor during his lifetime.
Before he retired in 1973, Dr. Nowinski earned a long list of awards from organizations in the United States and served as a reviewer for several professional periodicals, journals and scientific societies. He also edited and authored a number of books and published more than 240 articles in a variety of scientific fields. He was still active after his retirement, publishing scientific papers until he was 88 and mentoring graduate students into his 90s.
In 1997, Dr. Nowinski received a medal of recognition from the mayor of Warsaw, Poland, in recognition of his contributions to Poland and Warsaw. On his 94th birthday in 1999, a daylong symposium at the University celebrated his lifetime of contributions to engineering mechanics.
Both Dr. and Mrs. Nowinski were longtime supporters of the Newark Police Department, and the departments annual Nowinski Award for meritorious service was named in their honor.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Marie and Jerzy L. Nowinski Fund for the Newark Police, c/o PNC Bank, 1 Penn Mart Center, New Castle, DE 19720.