NEWTON: Professor Fa Yueh “Fred” Wu passed away peacefully at his home in Newton, Massachusetts on January 21, 2020. Known internationally for his contributions in solid state physics and statistical mechanics, Wu was a professor at Northeastern University for 39 years until his retirement in 2006 as Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Physics.
Wu was born in China in 1932, the fourth child of a prosperous and educated family in Shimen, Hunan. In the wake of the Chinese civil war, Wu moved to Taiwan with his father and step-mother in 1949 (His mother, Kung Wei Ying, passed away in 1935). Not knowing that the border to mainland China would soon close, they left behind his four siblings, whom his parents never saw again. Wu was reunited with his siblings on a visit to Beijing in 1979 and remained in close touch with them for the rest of their lives.
In Taiwan, Wu graduated first in his class from the Chinese Naval College of Technology in 1954. He served in the Navy of Taiwan from 1954 to 1956, where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade, made life-long friends and distinguished himself as a Chinese chess player (famously losing on purpose to an important general, and competing on multiple boards at once while blindfolded). Wu went on to earn an M.S. at National Tsinghua University in Taiwan in 1959 and a Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis in 1963. Wu taught at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now known as Virginia Tech) before moving to Boston to teach at Northeastern in 1967.
Wu was a gentle, playful man who often preferred the company of small children to that of adults. Wu loved to ponder and solve math and logic riddles. He was a loquacious raconteur of his childhood, his family lore, and Chinese history.
Wu is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Jane; daughters Yvonne of San Francisco, Yolanda of New York City and Yelena of Salt Lake City; his three sons-in law; his seven grandchildren; and his brother Fa Tong of Kunming, China.
His funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 25, 2020 at 10:00 am at the John C. Bryant Funeral Home, 56 Pemberton Road (off Rt 30), Wayland.
Private family interment will take place in the Wu family lot in Wayland.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations to the Northeastern University Department of Physics and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.