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Wilfrid Laurier University Development
December 8, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Ray Koenig (rear) with student and telescope
Ray Koenig (rear) with student and telescope

Headlines (Campus Updates)


Former physics professor Ray Koenig passes away


Apr 2/07

Ray Koenig, one of the first full-time science professors hired by Waterloo Lutheran University and a fixture on the Lutheran/Laurier campus for more than three decades, died April 1 after a lengthy illness. He was 76. 

Koenig, a native of Stratford, obtained his BSc and MSc from McMaster University. He lectured at Assumption University (now the University of Windsor) from 1956 to 1961, and taught high school from 1961 to 1963.

He was hired by Waterloo Lutheran University in 1963 as an assistant professor of physics, charged with helping to set up a new physics laboratory.

“He picked up the pieces after the big split” that resulted in the creation of the University of Waterloo, said Hart Bezner, professor emeritus of physics and computing, whom Koenig hired in 1967. “He put science back on its feet.”

If Koenig wasn’t the first full-time science professor at Waterloo Lutheran University, he was certainly one of the first, said Art Read, also a professor emeritus of physics and computing, who was hired by Koenig in 1966.

Koenig taught many courses over the years, including introductory physics and modern physics, but he may have been best known for teaching astronomy.

“He was a very keen astronomer,” said Read. “Ray made sure the university had a reasonable telescope and an outdoor mount for it.”

His research interest was spectral analysis,” said Bezner, and when Koenig attacked a problem, he was tenacious.

“I sort of think of a terrier,” Bezner said. “He would work on a physics problem for hours at a time, filling sheet after sheet with calculations until he solved it.”

“He was a great colleague and mentor,” said Read. “He taught me a lot about teaching physics, and we had many chats about physics.”

Koenig never obtained a PhD, probably because his work at WLU kept him so busy, because the death of his first wife at an early age “created a lot of turbulence” in his life, and because he took care of his aging mother, said Bezner.

But those were also different days. “In the mid to late 60s, there was no push to complete your PhD or get fired,” said Read. “And by then he had tenure.”

Koenig was a respected professor, said Read: “He was hard-nosed and he gave out the marks students deserved.”

He was also, Bezner said, “a highly moral person. His whole personality was infused with it

Koenig retired at age 65, when retirement was mandatory. However, he continued to teach almost a full load for some time after his retirement.

He is survived by his wife, Doreen, at former nurse at Laurier, two daughters, Patricia and Carole, and two grandchildren, Daniel and Jennifer.

The Raymond Koenig Physics Award has been established at Laurier to honour Koenig’s leadership in science and his commitment to students both academically and through his extra-curricular involvement with varsity sports.

Friends are invited to share their memories of Ray at the Erb & Good Family Funeral Home, 171 King St. S., Waterloo, from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday. The funeral will be held Tuesday, April 3, at 11 a.m. A reception will then be held at the funeral home, followed by interment at Parkview Cemetery.


Barry Ries
Public Affairs



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