Walter Lewis Pondrom was born in Beaumont June 30, 1916 to Walter Lewis and Christine Poole Shannon Pondrom Sr. His father was a successful banker as were a number of his uncles. Walter's siblings included Ruth de Lyo (1918–1996)n and Sybil. Walter and his sisters attended Beaumont High School. He graduated in 1933 and enrolled in the University of Texas at Austin. Walter's sister, Ruth de Lyon earned a masters in 1941 with a thesis entitled, Some Aspects of Interest Group Representation as Utilized by the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. Walter completed his BS in 1937. The following year he received his MA with a thesis entitled, A Study of the Buerger Method of Precision Determination of Crystalline Lattice Constants. His supervising professor was likely Malcolm Colby. In 1951, he was award a PhD for the dissertation, The Propagation of Elastic Pulse Through Rods and Plates. This work was likely supervised by Darrell Hughes or Charles Paul Boner.
In 1940, Walter married Josephine Frances Kolar (1912–2000). Josephine had graduated from University of Texas in 1935. She had worked as secretary to the Dean of Women.
From 1941 to 1951, he worked as an assistant professor at the University and researcher with the Military Research Laboratory there. In 1951, he moved to Whittier, CA, where he worked for North American Aviation, later to become Rockwell International. In 1962, he returned to Rockwell, from which he later retired as lead theoretician in laser gyro development. In 1983, Pondrom was named "Engineer of the Year," Rockwell's highest honor for engineering achievement.
Pondrom loved the Big Thicket country and often laughingly referred to himself as a swamp rat.
Walter had a number of patents at North American Aviation. One was entitled, Motor Control System for Leveling Device 1954. This invention pertains to a device for electronically indicating deviation from the earths gravity vector and the direction of departure therefrom; and, more particularly, it relates to a device for the alignment of equipment with respect to local level. Another patent was for a gravimeter in 1958. Walter also had publications in geology and x-ray crystallography.
His fascination with the mysteries of the universe never waned. After retirement, even up to the afternoon of his hospitalization, Walter continued to work on his own ideas about relativity.
Walter Lewis Pondrom Jr. died Saturday, March 24, 2001. His wife of almost 60 years, Josephine Kolar Pondrom, died nine months to the day before.
S.R. No. 660
SENATE RESOLUTION NO. 660
Walter Lewis Pondrom, Jr.
WHEREAS, The Senate of the State of Texas joins the
citizens of Austin in mourning the loss of distinguished physicist
Dr. Walter Lewis Pondrom, Jr., who died March 24, 2001, at the age
of 84; and
WHEREAS, Born in Beaumont, Texas, on June 30, 1916, Walter
had a lifelong passion for learning and always wanted to understand
the workings of the universe; and
WHEREAS, After earning his doctoral degree from
The University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Pondrom worked from 1941
to 1951 as an assistant professor of physics at the university
and as a research physicist with the Military Research Physics
Laboratory there; and
WHEREAS, He was married in 1940 to Josephine Frances Kolar Pondrom (1912–2000),
and the devoted couple provided a nurturing home for their daughter,
Victoria; the family moved to Whittier, California, in 1951, where
he worked for what was to become Rockwell International; and
WHEREAS, At Rockwell, Walter was active in the development
of inertial and geophysical instruments, and he served in
management positions in general physics, systems, and instrument
WHEREAS, Despite his busy career, Dr. Pondrom was a wonderful
husband, father, grandfather, and great‑grandfather; he took time
for kite flying, trips to the park, board games, and bedtime
WHEREAS, Highly esteemed among his colleagues, Dr. Pondrom
later retired from Rockwell as lead theoretician in laser gyro
development; in 1983, he was named Engineer of the Year, Rockwell's
highest honor for engineering achievement; and
WHEREAS, Returning to Austin after their daughter,
Victoria, became a widow in 1988, Dr. and Mrs. Pondrom were
there to give comfort and assistance to Victoria and her family;
when Mrs. Pondrom's health began gradually to fail, Dr. Pondrom
cared for her until her death in June, 2000, after almost 60 years
of marriage; and
WHEREAS, Still fascinated by the mechanics of the universe,
Dr. Pondrom continued to work on his own theories about relativity;
he was a man of honor and love and of intellectual brilliance and
ethical clarity; and
WHEREAS, The wise counsel and sound judgment of
Walter Lewis Pondrom, Jr., will be remembered with love and
gratitude by all who valued his wisdom and expertise; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Pondrom leaves a legacy of commitment and
compassion which will be cherished by those who shared his life;
now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the Senate of the State of Texas,
77th Legislature, hereby extend sincere condolences to the
members of his family: his daughter, Victoria Sullivan Hendricks;
his sister, Sybil Fuge; his granddaughters, Joanna Sullivan and
Ruth Ellen Friede; and his two great‑grandchildren; and, be it
RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution be prepared for the
members of his family as an expression of deepest sympathy from
the Texas Senate, and that when the Senate adjourns this day, it
do so in memory of Dr. Walter Lewis Pondrom, Jr.
President of the Senate
I hereby certify that the above
Resolution was adopted by the Senate
on April 4, 2001, by a rising vote.
Secretary of the Senate
Member, Texas Senate
Walter Lee Pondrom Jr. Photo and Document Album