MSU Physics & Astronomy suffers another emeritus faculty loss

  • Feb 27, 2018

Professor Emeritus Peter Schroeder passed away on February 25, 2018. He was 89 years old. This is the second loss of a long-time P-A faculty member in less than two months, as Tom Kaplan passed away on December 30, 2017.

Peter Schroeder joined the faculty of the MSU Department of Physics in September 1961 and retired in 1997. He published several papers on the general field of conduction in metals, including work on a system which was used in recent years on extracting information from magnetic media.

[photo of Prof. Peter Schroeder]

He received an M.Sc. at the University of New Zealand in 1949. A University of New Zealand Post Graduate Scholarship in Science took him to the University Of Bristol, England where he received his Ph.D. in 1955 and also met his future wife, Margaret Gwyneth Taylor. They married in 1953, and Peter returned to be a Lecturer in Physics at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand from 1953 to 1957. He was a Research Fellow at the National Research Council of Canada from 1958 to 1961 before leaving for his faculty position at Michigan State University.

He was a member of The Peoples Church of East Lansing, where he served on its Outreach Commission and was involved in a study of relationships between science and religion. His interests in these matters led him to teach a number of physics courses with social aspects. For example, in an intense cold war period he taught a course on nuclear weaponry, and, in the university at large, worked with the Nuclear War Study Group. Later, he taught a course on Energy and the Environment which led him into the field of Global Warming, which he firmly believed was happening with possible disastrous consequences.

After his retirement, he and his wife endowed an Annual Departmental Physics and Society Colloquium (later including a Public Lecture) and reviewed several books for the American Physical Society’s Forum on Physics and Society.

Born on December 6, 1928 in Dunedin, New Zealand, Peter Schroeder was a loving husband, father and friend. His sense of humor never left him and was enjoyed by all. He loved music, especially that played by his son, as well as Gilbert & Sullivan Operettas. He was known for playing the largest bell in the Choir, C3. Later in life he became an avid singer of boyhood songs. His main hobby was birding, spending hours with binoculars looking at birds and was particularly pleased when he viewed a resplendent Quetzal on one of his many travels.

He is predeceased by his son, Christopher Perran (1995). He is survived by his wife, Margaret; daughter Judith Anne; two brothers, Len and Graeme, and two sisters, Rona and Naneen in New Zealand.

A memorial service will be held at 3:30 pm on Friday, March 2, 2018 at The Peoples Church, 200 W. Grand River Avenue, East Lansing, with the family receiving friends one hour prior. Those desiring may make contributions in memory of Peter to
• NAMI, 401 S. Washington St., Ste. 104, Lansing, MI 48933
• Environmental Defense Fund, 1875 Connecticut Ave., NW Ste. 600, Washington, DC 20009
• Ocean Conservancy, 1300 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036.

The family is being served by Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, East Chapel. Online condolences may be made at