The Designer

November/December 2008

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The Designer

Courtesy SLAC

Marge Lamping DeStaebler, '54, MA '54, always knew that her house, a ramshackle log cabin built as a summer home in Portola Valley's Woodside Highlands, wasn't her husband's cup of tea. The roof was terrible, the electricity spotty. Still, Hobey DeStaebler saw she loved it and "he was able to work through its quirky features," she said.

Only after his death did she realize how carefully he had cared for the house—and in turn, her. Tucked away in nooks—next to the furnace, in a fuse box—were careful notes about each problem with that feature of the house, dating to its purchase in October 1968. They were mostly numbers (To Hobey DeStaebler, "everything was an equation," she says), but they showed his thoughtful and thorough nature.

Professor emeritus Herbert C. "Hobey" DeStaebler, a physicist who helped design and worked at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center from its founding, died June 13. He was 79.

DeStaebler was born in St. Louis. He came to Stanford in 1956 after earning his bachelor's degree and PhD at MIT. He began his career on the Farm at the High Energy Physics Laboratory and then became part of a team with a vision for a longer accelerator—what we now know as SLAC.

DeStaebler worked as a senior physicist in W.K.H. "Pief" Panofsky's legendary electron-scattering group. The group's experiments helped develop the Standard Model of particle physics, a theory describing three of the four known fundamental interactions among the elementary particles that make up matter. DeStaebeler also played a key role in many of SLAC's scattering experiments later honored with a Nobel Prize.

One of DeStaebler's greatest contributions, though, was monitoring the safety and accuracy of the laboratory itself. When work began on SLAC B Factory, it was DeStaebler who made sure the design and implementation of the new equipment went smoothly. He retired from SLAC in 2003.

DeStaebler was an avid mountaineer who spent many vacations hiking the backcountry at Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks. In addition to his wife of more than 40 years, he is survived by two sons, Jim and Peter; and a brother.

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