Lawrence mourns the loss of Professor Bruce Brackenridge

Steve Blodgett

Professor Emeritus of Physics Bruce Brackenridge passed away this past Saturday after a long battle with cancer. A fund has been established in his name to honor his memory. (

**The information here was written by the Director of Public Affairs of Lawrence Univeristy. It was not written as an article for The Lawrentian, but an Office of Public Affairs notice. It was originally published on the Lawrence Web site. It is reproduced here with Mr. Blodgett’s permission.

The Lawrence community is deeply saddened by the death of Professor Emeritus of Physics Bruce Brackenridge, following a long battle with cancer. Professor Brackenridge died early Saturday morning, May 3, at his home in Appleton with his family by his side. He was 76. His passing is a great loss for the college and for his many friends, colleagues, and students.

A member of the Lawrence University faculty since 1959, Professor Brackenridge taught physics and history of science until last year. Although officially retiring in 1996 as the Alice G. Chapman Professor of Physics, he remained active with the department, teaching, mentoring students, and participating in the physics department’s afternoon teas that bring together faculty and students in an informal setting.

A leading expert on Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia-his fascination with the treatise was the subject of an article in the Spring issue of Lawrence Today-he was the author of The Kepler Problem and the Principia: The Key to Newton’s Dynamics and served as the keynote speaker at a world conference on Newton held in Moscow in 1987. His final scholarly paper, “Newton’s Easy Quadratures ‘Omitted for the Sake of Brevity,'” appears in the May issue of Archive for History of Exact Sciences.

A former director of the London Center, Bruce maintained a lasting fondness for not only Lawrence’s overseas program but London itself, considering it to be a second home.

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Muskingum College and his master’s degree in history of science from Imperial College in London. He completed the Ph.D. in physics at Brown University in 1959.

In announcing to the Lawrence community Professor Brackenridge’s passing, President Richard Warch observed, “Bruce had fought cancer and other illnesses with grit and grace for many years, and his courage and good spirits were evident to the end. All of us grieve his death and extend our condolences to Mary Ann, Lynn, Rob, and Scot. He served Lawrence with remarkable distinction, and we will miss him.”

Professor Brackenridge is survived by his wife, Mary Ann Rossi; a daughter, Lynn Brackenridge; and two sons, Robert and Scot. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be directed to the college for a fund in the memory of J. Bruce Brackenridge.