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Robert V. Stachnik

March 30, 1947 –¬†November 29, 2014

Robert V. Stachnik, age 67, of Newark, DE, passed away on November 29, 2014.

Born March 30, 1947 in Yonkers, NY, he was the son of the late Victor and Catherine Stachnik. Bob grew up in Seaford, NY and graduated from Chaminade High School. He earned a degree in Astronomy from Villanova and a PhD in Astrophysics from State University of New York at Stony Brook. He worked at Itek Corporation as an Electro-Optical Scientist and later joined Harvard University as a research scientist.

Throughout his career as an astronomer, Bob did pioneering work on modern astronomical image processing. He collaborated with Antoine Labeyrie in the first applications of speckle interferometry to the problem of measuring the diameters of distant stars that were blurred by the Earth’s atmosphere, referred to by the press as “de-twinkling the stars”. He started this work as a graduate student and continued for more that a decade at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He continued his love of astrophysics and space exploration at NASA headquarters as a senior scientist and Program Manager of NASA’s Astrophysics Division, where he spent another decade managing astrophysics research programs funded by NASA at universities, institutes and observatories nationwide. After retiring from NASA he moved to Newark, DE and became the chief scientist at Testex Inc.

Bob maintained his friendships with astronomers and physicist around the world through scientific collaborations and travel. He was a member of AAS, ASTM, NACE, SSPC, ISO. He was known for his constant smile and generous nature. He was dedicated to a number of social and political causes, promoting justice for all.

Bob is survived by his wife, Mary Ellen; son , Alexander; brothers Joseph of Landenberg, PA and Richard (Barbara) of Mastic, NY; and sister, Marion (Dave Weston) of Newark, DE.

A visitation for family and friends will be held from 10 am until 11:30 am on Friday morning, December 5, 2014, at the Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home, 121 W. Park Place, Newark, DE. Interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to CARE, Attn: Gift Center, P.O. Box 7039, Merrifield VA 22116-9753, or Doctors Without Borders USA, P.O. Box 5030, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5030 or U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 125 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038.

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  1. Russell & Patricia Sylvester, December 1, 2014

    Our heartfelt sympathy to Mary Ellen and her family. We will truly miss Bob’s friendliness, constant smile and calm. God Bless.
    Pat and Russell Sylvester

  2. Rebecca Young, December 1, 2014

    This is such a loss to all of us who loved and respected Bob. He was always there with a cheerful word and encouragement. What a wonderful friend he was to so many. My heart is heavy for his family.

  3. jim young, December 2, 2014

    I’m so sorry to note Bob’s passing. I worked with Bob on many Progressive issues and campaigns and always found him to be a passionate and caring person. He always went one step further and pushed for action especially when the rest were hesitant. I will miss our debates about what constituted “fairness” and although we disagreed on many issues his point of view always helped me to see clearer.
    For most of us the measure of our value is the impact we have on others-Bob made the world a better place! My sympathies to his family and loved ones. God Bless

  4. Paul Baumbach, December 2, 2014

    I already miss Bob. His drive to make life better for all, his optimism, and his commitment to take steps to turn his optimism into reality will stay with me always.

  5. Matt Fajt, December 2, 2014

    We are so sorry for your loss. Your friends at KTA are praying for you and your family.

  6. Dan Gezari, December 2, 2014

    Bob was the closest kind of friend to me that a person can have, like my brother.

  7. Michael Kaplan, December 2, 2014

    I had the privilege of working with Bob at NASA Hqs. He was a brilliant scientist and a great work colleague. His enthusiasm and infectious smile made working with him a pleasure. He will be missed.

  8. Lydia Fazio Theys, December 2, 2014

    Bob was truly one of the finest and nicest people I have known. I met him at Stony Brook 40 years ago this fall. When he and Mary Ellen married, I was thrilled to be able to count him among the special people in my life. Bob was generous of spirit, incessantly curious and cared about all the right things. I will miss him. Mary Ellen and Alex, I am so sorry–I don’t even have the words. My condolences, too, to Bob’s entire family.

  9. Lorie Madron, December 2, 2014

    Sorry for your loss my prayers are with you and your family if you need me I am here for y’all. Love you

  10. Phyllis stephens, December 2, 2014

    So sorry for your loss may good bless and strengthen you in this time of sorry. Love you

  11. Mike Simon, December 2, 2014

    Ever since Bob’s grad student days when I co-supervised his PhD thesis I knew that Bob
    was special: a caring, warm, and thoughtful man. I valued Bob as a good friend – as he truly
    had to be to join me on a wilderness canoe trip. I will miss him deeply. My profound
    sympathy goes out to Mary Ellen and Alex.

  12. Deane Peterson, December 2, 2014

    This was way to early, I can’t believe he’s gone. I’m so sorry, Mary Ellen.

  13. Bob & Mary Beth Tucker, December 2, 2014

    Mary Ellen and Alex, we are so sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. We so enjoyed our chats with him; such a pleasant and friendly man, he always left us smiling!

    Our sympathy also to Marion, and the rest of his family.

    Our hearts are with you in your sadness.

    Bob and Mary Beth

  14. Ed Guinan, December 3, 2014

    I am very saddened to hear of Bob passing. He was too young to go. We go way back–Bob was one of the my first students at Villanova and have known him for over 45 years. I have followed his successful career and professional life. It was great to see him at the 50th Anniversary celebration of the our Astronomy Dept. at Villanova a few tears ago. Bob did an outstanding job while at NASA. He had vision and integrity and was fair to everyone. We will miss him very much!

  15. Bob and Carolyn Weston, December 3, 2014

    We send our condolences to Bob’s entire family.

    • Marion, December 4, 2014

      Thanks Carolyn and Bob. Love, Marion

  16. Bob and Carolyn Weston, December 3, 2014

    Our condolences to Bob’s entire family.

  17. Russell and Cheryl Wiley, December 5, 2014

    We are so saddened to hear of Bob’s passing. Please know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

  18. Lee and Lisa Anderson, December 5, 2014

    We are so sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. Our prayers are with Mary Ellen, Alex and the rest of the family. Bob was such a kind and special person. We will remember his thoughtfulness and wonderful sense of humor most of all. He will be greatly missed.
    Lee and Lisa

  19. Karen Pyla, December 5, 2014

    Mary Ellen, I am deeply saddened to hear about your loss. Bob was a wonderful and very enlightening man. He always had a smile for you when he greeted you. He will be missed. May God hold you and Alex close in your time of need and always .God bless, Karen P.

  20. Dick and Sandy Joyce, December 5, 2014

    Sandy and I were stunned to hear of Bob’s passing. We had known him since 1970, when we were all at Stony Brook. His dry sense of humor, intelligence, and compassion marked him as a very special person. He was a delightful companion on such Rites of Passage as the expedition to the Solar Eclipse at Prince Edward Island and the great canoe trip down the Green River in Utah. He could always be counted on for an interesting discussion on a wide variety of subjects. We shall miss him terribly. Our sincere condolences to Mary Ellen, Alex, and the rest of Bob’s family.

  21. Richard Meier and Richard Yeakel, December 6, 2014

    Dear Mary Ellen and Alex,

    Libby and Joe told us of the sudden and untimely passing of Bob. Our condolences to you both and all the family; you are in our thoughts and prayers. Love, Dick and Rich

  22. Cynthia Monroe Buck, April 23, 2015

    Dear Mary Ellen, Alex, and family,
    Our sincere sympathy to you. We watched a show about the Hubbell Telescope on PBS last night and thought about you. I decided to hunt for you again and and so sorry to have found you this way. What a wonderful husband/father! What a special life! We will think about and pray for you!
    Cindy and Steve Buck
    Zanesville, Ohio


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