Department ofPhysics


Father Carl Hayn, S.J. (1916—2014)

Our beloved colleague, Fr. Carl Hayn, S.J., died October 21, 2014 at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos at the age of 98. He had been the oldest living member of the California Province of the Society of Jesus.

Fr. Hayn was born July 13, 1916 in Los Angeles and graduated from Loyola High School. He entered the Jesuit novitiate at Los Gatos in September 1933 and received B.S. and M.A. degrees in Philosophy from Gonzaga University in 1939 and 1940. He returned to Los Angeles and taught physics and mathematics at Loyola High School, 1940-43, and engineering physics at the Army training program at Loyola University, 1943-44. Father returned to the Bay Area for his theological studies at Alma College in Los Gatos. He was ordained a priest in 1947 and received his S.T.L. degree from Alma College in 1948. For graduate studies in physics, he attended St. Louis University, receiving his Ph.D. in 1955. He later did postdoctoral work at Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies and Washington State University.

Fr. Hayn joined the new Department of Physics at the (then) University of Santa Clara in 1955. He taught full time for more than 50 years and served as president of the Northern California/Nevada section of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Even towards the end of his career he continued to publish scholarly articles in journals such as the American Journal of Physics and The Physics Teacher. He retired from teaching in 2006 but worked in the department until 2012 – writing, tutoring students, and receiving visitors.

Fr. Hayn had two careers, which he integrated perfectly. Before he started his day as a physicist, he celebrated the daily 6:00 A.M. Mass in the Mission Church with a group of regulars he fondly called the “Usual Suspects”. He also provided priestly service to the Carmelite Sisters of Santa Clara, a community of which he was very fond.

For each of us on the faculty in department, it was a blessing and privilege to work alongside Father. He was equally skilled and patient explaining the subtleties of a physics demonstration that he had developed years prior as he was listening to and counseling a colleague regarding a personal issue.

Just after Fr. Hayn’s death, the Department received a note from one of his former students, Greg Smestead (SCU Biology, ’83), an excerpt of which he has kindly allowed us to share.

He was my Physics Professor at SCU in the mid-1980s and his interest in science and his love of God made a big impression on me. Suffice to say, he's one of the reasons I became a scientist and a professor. I will never forget how he would always add a quotation on the board in the lab from the scientist whose experiment we were studying to show that they were human beings, just like us. For me, he is the face of both the Jesuit order and Santa Clara University.

Time passed and we stayed in touch. Carl presided over the burial of my maternal grandmother and later my mother, both at Santa Clara Mission cemetery. My family and I visited Fr. Hayn several times after he retired, most recently on the day before St. Patrick's day this year. We had a lovely lunch together, sharing laughter and memories . His smile, his kindness and good humor charmed my young daughter (and anyone else with whom he had contact). I attended the celebration of his life (and death) at the Mass of Christian Burial and his interment (today) near my beloved mother and grandmother.

I write all this, because it shows some of the many ways that his spirt will continue. You see, I must be representative of hundreds of students whose lives were touched by this man of science and God.