Scuba Oceanlife 07

Dr. Steve A. Piacsek

May 24, 1935 ~ March 29, 2021 (age 85)



Dr. Steve A. Piacsek passed away on March 29, 2021, at age 85.  He was a devoted husband and father, dedicated scientist, and devout Catholic.  He was born May 24, 1935, in Budapest, Hungary.  In 1944, he and his family fled to Austria before the Soviet occupation closed the border.  When Steve was 16, the family emigrated to the United States, settling in South Bend, Indiana.  He graduated from the University of Notre Dame and received a PhD in geophysical fluid dynamics from MIT, where he was one of the first students to rely on computers for his research. In 1963, he married Deborah Shaw from Wellesley, Massachusetts, and they started a family.

Steve spent most of his career with the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., and its oceanographic division that was moved to the Stennis research facility near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.  He was a branch head for several years, hiring and nurturing a young and diverse team of scientists that made significant contributions to global ocean circulation modeling.  Beyond his scientific contributions, Steve was a dear friend, colleague, and mentor to countless people.  He had a gift of being able to make friends with anyone.  If you were lucky enough to sit next to him on a plane or share a compartment on the train from Milan to Rome, you might be invited to stay with him the next time you were in town, or even be offered to interview for a job. 

Fluent in four languages, Steve loved travel, good bread and wine, and classical music.  He fostered a sense of adventure in his children by bringing them along on many of his trips to Europe for scientific conferences.  The highlight of his career was the six years he spent at the SACLANT research center in La Spezia, Italy.  His apartment in Lerici, with majestic views of the coast, ensured that he never lacked for visitors.

Shortly before Steve retired, hurricane Katrina demolished their house in Waveland, Mississippi, and he and Debbie relocated to South Bend.  For the last few years, they have been living in Silver Spring with the family of their son Michael.  Steve is survived by his wife Debbie, brothers Béla and Nicholas, sister Marika, children Andrew (Lisa), Elizabeth (Lee), and Michael (Yvette), and eight grandchildren.

Steve's family will have a private interment.  A memorial and celebration of his life will be held later, at a time to be determined, when friends can gather safely.

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Private Interment

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