In Memoriam: Walter Kurt Khan

Walter Kurt Kahn EE


Walter Kurt Kahn, Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, died of heart failure on January 31, 2020 at the age of 90. Born in Mannheim, Germany, he fled the Nazis with his brother and their parents, Simon Kahn and Hilde Ullmann Kahn, arriving in New York in July 1938. Walter, who followed his brother through Stuyvesant High School, received his Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from Cooper Union and his PhD in Electrical Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now NYU Tandon School of Engineering).

Dr. Kahn worked at Wheeler Labs, taught at Brooklyn Polytechnic, and spent a year at the Office of Naval Research in London before joining the faculty of The George Washington University, where he taught for 45 years, served as Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering, and held a seat on the Faculty Senate, among other leadership roles. The author of over 100 papers in the fields of electromagnetics, microwave components, antennas, and optics, Professor Kahn was a Fellow of the IEEE, where he served in editorial and other roles, and was a long-time consultant for the US Naval Research Laboratory. He was also a member of the Cosmos Club.

Professor Kahn, a true Renaissance man with a particular fondness for Asian calligraphy, art, and ceramics, was beloved by students, respected by peers, and admired and adored by family and friends. Together with his wife he enjoyed life in Bethesda, MD, spending 49 years in Carderock Springs and the last two years at Maplewood Park Place, where they made many new friends.

Walter Kahn is survived by his wife, Barbara Fairberg Kahn, of Bethesda, MD; his daughter Hilde Kahn (Steve Bradbury), of Tysons, VA; his son, Jonathan Kahn (Natalia Guzman Kahn), of Hamburg, Germany; and his grandchildren, James Bradbury, William Bradbury, Susanna Bradbury, and Alexander Kahn. He is also survived by his brother, Ernest Kahn (Marilyn), of Natick, MA; nephew, David Kahn (Gail); also of Natick, and nephew, Richard Kahn (Sherry), of Nashua, NH. A service will be held on Sunday, February 9, at Maplewood. Donations in Walter’s memory can be made to Selfhelp Community Services, the oldest and largest program serving Holocaust survivors in North America.