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Richard R. Freeman

Richard Freeman

Richard R. Freeman

Obituary from Independent News.com, linked here.


Richard “Rick” Reiling Freeman of Livermore, California passed away at home on Monday, March 25, 2024, at 79 years old. Rick was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and grew up in Seattle, Washington, where he met his wife of 56 years, Lynne. Rick is survived by Lynne and his sons Mark and Stephen, his five grandchildren; and his siblings Thomas Freeman, David Freeman, and Patricia Wilson. Rick was deeply committed to both his personal and professional life. He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather as well as a world-renowned scientist, teacher and mentor. Beyond the people in his life, he loved the outdoors, his dogs, reading, and volunteering, had traveled to every continent, and was an avid consumer of knowledge in all domains. He was a remarkable man with a heart as vast as his intellect; his impact reached far and wide, touching, influencing, and changing many lives.

Rick attended the University of Washington, graduating Summa Cum Laude in Physics, before doing his PhD work in Physics at Harvard University under Nobel laureate Norman Ramsey. Throughout his illustrious career he held many positions including Postdoc and Lecturer at MIT, department head at Bell Laboratories, the Edward Teller endowed Professor and Applied Sciences Department Chair at the University of California Davis, Deputy Associate Director of the Lasers program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Dean of the College of Math and Physical Sciences and Distinguished Professor of Math and Physical Sciences at the Ohio State University, and Affiliated Professor at the University of Washington. He was an author of more than 350 peer-reviewed papers, held 6 patents, wrote the textbook “Electromagnetic Radiation”, and advised more than 30 PhD students.


In the scientific community, Rick was larger than life, a light to follow. His many contributions include work on ultrafast VUV sources and lasers, lithography, strong-field atomic physics like the “Freeman resonance”, high energy density physics, and leadership in the pursuit of fast ignition inertial fusion energy. Rick inspired those around him to reach farther with his one-of-a-kind blend of confidence, humor, infectious enthusiasm, quotability, high standards, and unrelenting pursuit of truth. And his infallible BS detector. Freeman’s First Law: “You can’t tweak zero” and “you have to be willing to bet on yourself” are among the many Rick-isms that those he influenced carry with them still. Rick was committed to the idea of leaving the world a better place than he found it and by all accounts he succeeded. Hemingway wrote that “every man has two deaths, when he is buried and the last time someone says his name.” For the many who encountered and loved Rick, he will pass only once.