Portions of the information below came from an interview with Arthur E. Lockenvitz conducted by Mel Oakes.
ARTHUR E. LOCKENVITZ
Professor Arthur E. Lockenvitz was born on January 7, 1902, in Bloomington, Illinois to Ernst and Katie Gutekuntz Lockenvitz.
His father, Ernst, was born on December 22, 1870 at Island Riegan, Germany.He was the youngest of seven children. In early youth, Ernst learned the shoemaker trade and after serving a term in the army he sailed for America in 1895, coming directly to Bloomington, Illinois. He ran a shoe repair shop there for 40 years. He was a member of the German Kriegerverein, Remembrance Lodge 77 of the I.O.O.F., and Wade Barney Lodge.
Ernst married Miss Katie Gutekunst in 1901. Katie had come to America earlier in 1891 aboard the German ship, Suevia.
Katie was born September 16, 1871 in Germany, a daughter of Conrad and Elizabeth Hoezle Gutekunst. Others in her family came in 1905.
Ernst and Katie had two children, Arthur E. Lockenvitz, of Austin, Texas; and a daughter, Marie Lockenvitz (McAfee), of Brighton, Illinois.
Ernst died June 10, 1938 and Katie died August 17, 1968 in Jerseyville, Illinois. She and Ernst are buried in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Bloomington, Illinois.
Arthur E. Lockenvitz's Education
Arthur and his sister, Marie, attended Bloomington High School. Arthur graduated in 1920. He was a member of an active Radio Club in high school.
Following graduation, Arthur and his sister entered Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. Marie became a high school science and mathematics teacher. Arthur earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Illinois Wesleyan in 1925 and a master's degree from Indiana University in 1926. His thesis subject was the study of the time delay for electron emission in the photoelectric effect. His photo-cells were potassium hydride.
He next worked at Western Electric in Chicago for one year. There, he split mica which was used for its piezo-electric effect in the construction of mica condenser microphones. Previously, this was done by hand by young women. Arthur also developed a method for determining diamond die quality for extruding wire.
Next, Arthur went to Göttingen for a semester where he attended lectures by Hilbert, Pohl, Franck, Born and Oldenburg. Hilbert was too ill with pernicious anemia to come to campus so students went to his house where he lectured from bed! Eating raw liver was later discovered as a successful curative supplement. Lockenvitz also spent a semester studying in Hamburg. It was in Germany that he met Margaretha Brandt who was born December 26, 1905, in Schifffbek, near Hamburg, Germany. Margaretha came to America on July 22, 1929, on the SS Bremen, and they were married in 1930. Their daughter, Brigitta Elisabeth Käthe Lockenvitz was born October 19, 1932, in Hamberg. Margaretha and Arthur are shown at right. They loved to dance the polka.
Arthur joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin as an instructor in 1928 at a salary of $1800/9 months. He remembers professors’ salaries in the $4000 range. In 1932, all salaries were cut by 25%. The physics department was in the basement of the old Main Building.
Margaretha petitioned for naturalization in 1941. Note in the affadavit below that Professor S. Leroy Brown and Professor John M. Kuehne signed as witnesses for Margaretha.
Below we see Lockenvitz (on left) and Professor Malcolm Y. Colby in the basement of Main Building. (This 1930 picture courtesy of Molly Colby Williams, Colby‘s granddaughter.) The department later moved to the new Physics Building in 1933.
There were no modern physics texts, students studied original papers. The additional space provide by the new physics building enabled the creation of a modern physics lab (Physics 325). Experiments included Michelson interferometry, e/m, oil drop and electron diffraction in thin films. Class size, for majors was about 12 per year. Among the department research conducted, according to Lockenvitz, was ultrasonic sterilization of milk by PhD student, Gaines.
Lockenvitz research in the 1930s focused on better vacuum pumps. He made 8-stage oil diffusion pumps creating 10 -7 pressures without traps. All physics majors had teaching assistant appointments, even sophomores. This was critical for their survival during the Depression. With the support from an oil company, Professor Romberg spent a summer in Hungary working at the Eötvös Institute learning about his torsion balances. Lucian Lacoste, from San Antonio, returned to Austin from California following his PhD on crystal structure with Linus Pauling. Lacoste introduced the first quantum course about 1940.
During World War II, Lockenvitz was part of the UT Austin War Research Laboratory. He also directed the university's Military Physics Rsearch Laboratory from 1945 to 1954. One of the major areas of research at the lab was associated with a gun sight. A difficult problem was impeding progress on improving the sight. Solutions were offered but were deemed to be too complex and very time consuming. Lockenvitz proposed a solution that was both elegant and easily implemented. It was recognized by the lab as a major contribution to the lab's success. Others in the lab often sought Lockenwitz out for his prospective on their problems.
Professor Lockenvitz's research interests included working on photon models and the interaction of photons with other photons as well as with electric and magnetic fields. Known as a prolific researcher, Professor Lockenvitz's latest work involved attempting to measure a process in laser beams. He retired in 1972, though he continued his research until his death.
Here is an exchange between two students, Bob Schuhmann and Robert L. Seale, who took Professor Lockenvitz’s class in the late 1940s or early 1950s with Henry “Hank” Dvorak.
Dr. Robert “Bob” Schuhmann: “When we were there, the physics department had a prof who was a ‘noted character’ ". Hank said one day the guy looked at a mess of wires, and said: "looks like a thermometer."
“If I am not mistaken, I took a course in the physics department on thermodynamics, all science and no engineering, and it was one of the best courses on campus. Could it have been the same prof? Do you recall his name?”
Dr. Robert L. Seale, “The guy was Professor Lockenvitz. His regular schedule was:
9AM - first graduate course in Mechanics, 10AM - Thermodynamics (stretched wires and all that stuff), 11AM - Atomic Physics. They were all first level graduate courses. One day, he got started on his lecture and, after about 5 minutes, Hank interrupted him and said "Professor Lockenvitz , this is Atomic Physics, not Thermodynamics." Lockenvitz looked a bit stunned, the class broke out in laughter because it was Thermo. Hank just got to class an hour early. Lockenvitz never got a PhD, but all that did was humble the students—it taught us that education was not a matter of tags, but what you had on the ball. I already knew that from a few years earlier.”
(Contributed July 17, 2010)
Here is a story relayed to Mel Oakes by Professor W. W. Robertson. Lockenvitz was known for his lowed booming voice. During a renovation of Painter Hall, the construction noise was at a level that the lecturers would stop lecturing and wait for the noise to cease. However, the story goes, "When Lockenvitz began to lecture, the carpenters dropped their hammers, and others stopped their machinery until Lockenwitz finished."
Margaretha Brandt Lockenvitz
Margaretha Brandt Lockenvitz died peacefully in her sleep September 26. Born in Hamburg, Germany, she would have celebrated her 100th birthday on December 26. She was predeceased by her husband, Arthur E. Lockenvitz, Physics Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas. Her two brothers and two sisters also predeceased her. She met Arthur, a native of Illinois, when he was studying for a master’s degree at the University of Hamburg. She came to America in 1928, and they married two years later. They lived in Austin their entire married lives and considered themselves “dyed in the wool Texans.”
Margaret was a talented homemaker and amateur artist. When she was in her 80s, she wrote a memoir of her childhood in Germany, recalling with amazing detail, her family life before, during and after World War I. Even in recent years, she took almost no medication, questioning even the need of a daily vitamin pill. She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Gitta and Robert Morris of Austin and Guilford, Connecticut and two granddaughters, Kristin Morris of Austin, and Lisa Morris of Pine Plains, New York. She also is survived by several nephews and nieces in this country and Germany. The family wishes to thank the caring staff at Westminster Manor Health Center, where Margaret lived for the past three years. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Westminster Manor, designated for the “Employee Christmas Fund.” Funeral arrangements are private. Obituary and guestbook online at wcfish.com
Arthur E. Lockenvitz Photo Album