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Memorial for Hyron Spinrad

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Graveside: 9:30 AM Wednesday, December 9th, 2015
Hills of Eternity Memorial Park
1301 El Camino Real
Colma, CA 94014
Memorial: 11:00 AM Wednesday, December 9th, 2015
Temple Isaiah
945 Risa Road
Lafayette, CA 94549

Galactic researcher Dr. Hyron "Hy" Spinrad, 81, passed away on December 7, 2015 in Walnut Creek, CA, after a long illness.

Hy was born February 17, 1934 in Brooklyn, NY to Manny and Ida Spinrad. He moved with his family to California when he was twelve and commuted across town to attend George Washington High School. He was joined by his cousin Steve at U.C. Berkeley and earned a degree in Astronomy, enlisted in the U.S. Army, and then returned to UC Berkeley for his Ph.D. During graduate school he married Bette (Abrams) and started a family. As a newly minted Ph.D. at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Hy specialized in stellar planet atmosphere compositions, most notably discovering water vapor in the atmosphere of Mars in 1963.

University of California recruited him back to Berkeley, and he was hired as an astronomy professor in 1964 and stayed there for the rest of his long career.

Hy was known at Cal for his research on stellar composition, formation and evolution of galaxies, and comets. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and was honored with the 1986 Heineman Prize for outstanding work in astrophysics. Asteroid 3207 Spinrad was named for him. Even after his retirement in 2005, Hy never lost his love for teaching astronomy, delivering lectures in the mid-stages of his illness. Despite his great scholarship, Hy was gentle and charming with all who asked questions--little children to graduate students.

Hy was known for his loyalty and devotion to his wife, family, University, and the Brooklyn (and then Los Angeles) Dodgers. Hy's own baseball skills were honed on the streets of San Francisco and then, as an undergraduate, as a Cal pitcher.

Hy is survived by his wife, Bette, his sons, Mike and Robert, his daughter, Tracy, his sons-in-law, Harry Joel and Grant Shapiro, and his seven grandchildren.