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In memoriam: Marjorie Meinel

Marjorie and Aden Meinel after 
receiving the Gold Medal of SPIE 
in 1997.

Marjorie Meinel, wife and research partner of Aden Meinel, died on 24 June after a long illness.

Both natives of Pasadena, CA, Aden Meinel met Marjorie Pettit at Pasadena Junior College in an 11th grade special high school class for gifted students. Marjorie, the daughter of Edison Pettit, one of the founding astronomers at the Mt. Wilson Observatory, received her BA in astronomy at Pomona College and an MA in astronomy from Claremont College in 1944.

Aden Meinel was the first director of the Kitt Peak National Observatory in 1958-1960 and was the founder and first director of The Optical Sciences Center at the University of Arizona.

Marjorie, who had put her own professional career on hold to raise a family that would eventually include seven children, was a partner in Aden's profession. With her astronomy knowledge, she acted as editor, muse, and sounding board to Aden, a pattern that continued even into her renewed professional work that began in the mid-1970s. In the 1980s the Meinels were were hired as Distinguished Visiting Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where they helped develop next-generation space-telescope concepts.

The Meinels received, among other awards, SPIE's Gold Medal Award in 1997, the Kingslake Medal in 1994 and 2001, and the Goddard Award in 1984, the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in 1993, and the George van Biesbroeck Award for Services in Astronomy in 1990.

A memorial service was held in Henderson, Nevada, on 29 June.

Defining the Golden Age of Science: the Meinels make their marks in astronomy From oemagazine, June 2002.