Dr. Aaron Temkin


On Jan. 27, Dr. Aaron Temkin, of Washington, D.C., passed away peacefully in his sleep. He was 93. Aaron was born in Morristown, N.J., and grew up in Jersey City. He graduated summa cum laude with a degree in physics from Rutgers University in 1951, and obtained his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology in 1956. He went on to complete a Fulbright fellowship at the University of Heidelberg and was subsequently awarded an associateship at the Naval Research Laboratory, NRL. From NRL he went to the National Bureau of Standards.

In 1960, he began his career at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, where he was a theorist in atomic physics, specializing in low-energy electron-atom collisions and electron-molecule scattering. He authored or co-authored more than 200 technical papers and wrote portions of several books. Aaron retired from NASA in 2005, but continued as an emeritus scientist, working with colleagues and co-authoring several papers until the spread of COVID forced NASA to limit employee access.

Aaron married Miriam Schachter in 1958, and they had two children. Miriam died in 1996. Aaron married Gladys Sharnoff in 1998. A violinist, he was a member of the Symphony of the Potomac (formally the Jewish Community Center of Rockville Orchestra) for over 50 years. Aaron was dedicated to Judaism; he participated in Jewish activities inside his home, attended synagogue frequently and supported Jewish causes.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Maxwell and Mary Temkin; his first wife, Miriam Hannah Temkin (nee Schachter); and his sisters, Erna Hornstein and Alice Green. He is survived by his wife Gladys Sharnoff Temkin; his brother, Marcus Temkin (Eveline); children, Jeannie Temkin, Philip Temkin (Deanna), Alexandra Slade (Benjamin), Jonathan Sharnoff (Katherine) and Elena Sharnoff (Lance); grandchildren, David Temkin (Mariah), Becki Shah (Nitesh), Marcus Sharnoff, Kaleigh Sharnoff, Rose Slade, Philip Slade and Daniel Slade; and two great-grandsons, Clark Temkin and Kayden Shah.

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