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Morris Calsyn, 1932-2016

Morris Calsyn and Rev. Sebastian Menke.

Morris Calsyn and his mentor Rev. Sebastian Menke review blueprints for the Menke Observatory.

January 2017


Morris Calsyn, who served as a St. Ambrose faculty member for nearly 40 years, passed away December 26 in Davenport. An alumnus of St. Ambrose, he joined the faculty in fall 1958. He taught mathematics, physics and astronomy.

On first impression, Mr. Calsyn could seem quiet and unassuming, but those fortunate enough to know him better quickly came to appreciate his passion for astronomy, his dedication to his scholarship and teaching, and his sense of humor. He was a founding member of the Quad City Astronomical Society astronomy club and inspired an appreciation for astronomy in countless students, no matter their age or field of study. He served on numerous committees and chaired his department for a time. One summer, he was one of only 20 individuals from across the country chosen to attend an institute on low energy accelerators at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The National Science Foundation awarded him a full grant for that work.

He was instrumental in the development of the observatory St. Ambrose built at the Wapsi River Environmental Education Center in 1994. The observatory was named in honor of one of Mr. Calsyn's former teachers and mentors, Msgr. Sebastian Menke.

After his retirement from St. Ambrose in 1997, Mr. Calsyn enjoyed spending time with his family, woodworking, gardening and painting.

Mr. Calsyn earned his bachelor of physics degree from St. Ambrose in 1955, a master of science degree in physics from the University of Kansas in 1957, and completed a year's work toward a doctorate at the University of Colorado.

Services and a Mass of Christian Burial were held December 29, at Holy Family Catholic Church, Davenport. Among those left to honor his memory are his wife, Frances. Online condolences may be shared here. Read a full obituary here.

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