Charles E. Kolb Jr., 74, of East Falmouth and Bedford died January 5 after a short illness.
Born in Cumberland, Maryland, he was the son of Doris McFarland Kolb and Charles E. Kolb Sr. He was known as Chuck.
Growing up in the Allegheny Mountains, he developed a love of the outdoors canoeing and camping with the Boy Scouts, running cross-country, playing tennis, and working summers on his grandparents’ farm on Martin’s Mountain.
He graduated from Allegany County High School in 1963 and attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was awarded a bachelor of science degree in chemistry in 1967, and a master’s and doctorate in physical chemistry from Princeton University.
He married his high school sweetheart, Susan Foote, on August 21, 1965. By 1971 he had two children, a newly minted doctorate, and a job at Aerodyne Research, Inc. as senior research scientist. In 1973, the Kolbs settled in Sudbury to raise their family.
Mr. Kolb became president and CEO of Aerodyne in 1985. Over the next 35 years, he led it to become a prominent research institution, working in conjunction with public agencies, private industry, and academia. He was a hands-on leader and a practicing scientist, with extensive expertise in atmospheric and environmental chemistry, combustion chemistry, chemical lasers, materials chemistry, and the chemical physics of rocket and aircraft exhaust plumes.
He saw science as a universal language and a diplomatic tool. He worked with an international team of scientists to study air pollution issues in Mexico City, and was a director of the Malta Conferences Foundation, which brings together scientists to help solve scientific and technical challenges in the Middle East.
He received numerous industry awards and academic honors, was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Optical Society of America. He had more than 250 peer-reviewed publications to his name.
He loved his work and was a natural and enthusiastic teacher, able to break down complex topics for a lay audience.
In his free time, he enjoyed running, tennis, weekends on Cape Cod, and old-school jazz.
He leaves two children, Craig Kolb and his wife, Corey Keller, of Oakland, California, and Amy Kolb Noyes and her husband, Dan Noyes, of Wolcott, Vermont; a sister, Dr. Susan Kolb of Dunwoody, Georgia; four grandchildren, Adriana Noyes, Ian Noyes, Zoe Kolb and Theo Kolb; and other family.
He was predeceased by his wife in 2009.
A memorial celebration of his life will be Saturday, February 15, in Burlington.