(Died: December 26, 2002)
Professor Emeritus, Scientist
When the Seattle World?s Fair opened in April 1962, it offered visitors a glimpse of the future -- made better by science. One of the most popular attractions at the fair was the science pavilion.
The space-age theme might have fallen flat without the quiet enthusiasm of Dael Wolfle, the renowned scientist who pulled together a group of colleagues to figure out ways to make science entertaining for the masses.
Mr. Wolfle, 96, died Dec. 26. He was a professor emeritus at the University of Washington and had taught in the Graduate School of Public Affairs.
After the World?s Fair, the science pavilion became the Pacific Science Center. Mr. Wolfle was a member of the board of trustees from 1962 until 1980. He continued as a foundation associate until his death. "He was very quiet and very, very thoughtful," said George Moynihan, executive director of the Pacific Science Center. "He was a man of few words, but he chose them wisely."
Mr. Wolfle?s daughter, Janet Christophersen, said her father had a great memory for details.
"He had a wonderful mind and intellect," she said. "He was always a gentleman."
Mr. Wolfle was born in Puyallup on March 5, 1906, and grew up in Bremerton. He graduated from the University of Washington in 1927. He thought he would become a high school math teacher. But after he earned a doctorate in experimental psychology at Ohio State University in 1931, his career took other turns.
Mr. Wolfle?s passion for science took him around the world.
In 1999, the University of Washington Alumni Association recognized him as one of the 100 most famous graduates of the 20th century. He continued teaching until he was 90.
"He was a great father and a great person; he was a man of the century, and he left his mark on it," said his son, Lee Wolfle.
Dael Wolfle was the executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., in 1960 when a group of fair organizers came to him for help.
They were originally thinking about a Pacific Rim theme for the fair, but were getting a lukewarm reaction. They knew they wanted to make the science exhibit interesting and entertaining to the general public. Would Mr. Wolfle help?
He was characteristically low-key, but was charmed by the idea.
In his book "The Story of the Seattle World?s Fair, 1962," Murray Morgan said that without the help of the scientists, Seattle might have had just a "good regional fair."
Jay Rockey, who now owns the Rockey Co. public-relations firm, was public-relations director for the World?s Fair. He was particularly impressed with Mr. Wolfle.
"He was able to bring great prestige to the World?s Fair and to Seattle after the World?s Fair," Rockey said.
Mr. Wolfle was married to Helen Morrill for 59 years, until her death in 1988. He is survived by daughter Janet Christophersen, sons Lee and John Wolfle, and six grandchildren.
Discovery of Talent Walter Van Dyke Bingham Lectures on Development of Exceptional Abilities & Capacities, Harvard University Press (1969).