Karl W. Boer
March 23, 1926 ~ April 18, 2018
Karl Wolfgang Boer, 92, of Naples Florida, passed away peacefully on a sunny Wednesday, April 18, 2018. Karl was born March 23, 1926, in Berlin, Germany, son of the late Karl Willi and Charlotte Boer.
Karl received two PhDs in 1952 and 1955 from the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, where he later served as Chair of the physics department. During this time, Karl founded and served as first Editor-in-Chief of Physica Status Solidi, an international journal of solid state physics. In 1961, after the construction of the Berlin Wall, Karl emigrated to the United States. He settled in Newark, Delaware, where he spent most of his career as a distinguished professor of physics and solar energy at the University of Delaware.
Karl was a true solar pioneer. It was at the University of Delaware that he designed and built "Solar One", the first house that converted sunlight into heat and electricity with hybrid collectors. He also created the Institute of Energy Conversion, which was one of the two centers of excellence in teaching and research in solar energy in the United States. He was also the founder and CEO of Solar Energy Systems, Inc., later acquired by Shell Oil, Inc., with over 250 employees working to improve, develop, and manufacture solar cells.
As a scientist, researcher, and author who passionately devoted his entire life to his pursuit of creating a better world with renewable energy, Karl conducted research and published peer reviewed papers until age 91. His scientific contributions include more than 350 publications, 28 patents, and several books, including the seminal Survey of Semi-Conductor Physics. He also served as President of the American Solar Energy Society, and as Editor-in-Chief of Advances in Solar Energy, which is a professional review journal that annually summarizes worldwide achievements in the field of solar energy. He was also a fellow of AAAS, APS, ASES, and IEEE.
The prestigious Karl W. Boer Solar Energy Medal of Merit was created in his honor by the University of Delaware, in 1987. It is awarded to individuals who have made extraordinary, valuable, and enduring contributions in solar energy or other forms of renewable energy through research, development, or economic enterprise. Since 1993, the Medal has been awarded to an inspiring list of visionary researchers, entrepreneurs, and world leaders.
Karl is survived by his beloved wife of 50 years, Renate Boer, son Ralf Reinhard Boer (and daughter-in-law Kathleen Boer) of Naples, Florida, daughter Kate Polozie (and son-in-law Steve Polozie) of Rochester, New York, four grandchildren: Mimi Castelo, Charlie Boer, Sandy Boer, and Kai Polozie and five great granddaughters: Nora Castelo, Charlotte Castelo, Evelyn Castelo, Juliet Boer, and Sage Boer.
Online condolences may be offered to the family by visiting the Naples Funeral Home Facebook page; Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers can be made in Karl's name to the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) www.ases.org or the International Solar Energy Society (ISES) www.ases.org
A family-only service will be celebrated on Monday, April 23, 2018, at sunrise in honor of this solar luminary. A celebration of Karl's life will be held on October 11, 2018, at the University of Delaware in connection with this year's award of the Karl W. Boer Solar Energy Medal of Merit.