Marleigh Chandler Sheaff
Marleigh Chandler Sheaff was born on March 18, 1935, the only child of Walcott and Eleanor Chandler, in Springfield, MA. She spent most of her childhood in Freeport, Long Island, NY. She began her undergraduate studies at Barnard College, and married her husband Edmund Sheaff. Their son Mark was born in New York, and daughter Christina was born in Missoula, Montana, where both Ed and Marleigh attended the University of Montana, and Marleigh completed her undergraduate degree. Before long they moved to Berkeley, California, and Marleigh took a position at Lawrence Radiation Labs, scanning and analyzing bubble chamber film. The family moved to Madison, Wisconsin in 1965. She soon resumed her studies and was awarded a PhD in physics at the University of Wisconsin in 1973. For most of her career she was a research scientist at the University of Wisconsin, working on a number of experiments at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and leading or supporting several instrument development efforts. Upon her retirement in 1996, she held the position of Senior Scientist at Wisconsin. She worked as a visiting professor at CINVESTAV del IPN in Mexico from 1996 through 1998 but returned to Madison to care for Ed, who had fallen seriously ill. Following Ed’s death, Marleigh and Steve Bracker, a colleague at Fermilab, joined in partnership, and migrated annually between his home in British Columbia, her home in Madison, and her condominium in Sarasota, Florida. Both became enthusiastic kayakers and birders, and enjoyed cooking (and even washing dishes) together, especially during berry harvest in BC. During her research career and long after her retirement, she worked tirelessly to build international collaborations, especially with researchers and students from Latin America, but also physicists in Europe, Asia and Africa. She helped to organize a large number of schools and workshops bringing together prominent researchers and advanced students from all over the world. In recognition of her work, she was made a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Throughout her scientific career, Marleigh insisted on the primacy of solid evidence and clear reasoning, and she carried that mindset into her personal life as well. In her last months, faced with a grim and certain diagnosis of advanced pancreatic cancer, she comforted those who loved her but never entertained notions of immortality or miraculous cures. She lived her last weeks at Agrace Hospice with courage, and enfolded in love. Her life ended a few minutes before midnight on June 23, 2017.
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