June 21, 1916–September 9, 2000
BY HERBERT GURSKY
“IF I WERE RICH, I would pay for the privilege of doing it,” Gertrude Friedman quoted her husband as saying of the decades of research he had carried out. She was reminiscing of their life together in their home of 50 years in Arlington, Virginia. The house is well known to friends of the Friedmans, where each spring they hosted a Sunday brunch when the azaleas that overflowed their front yard were at peak bloom. Friedman died there of cancer on September 9, 2000, at the age of 84.
Herbert Friedman spent nearly his entire professional career at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., after arriving there in 1940 upon completion of his graduate work at Johns Hopkins University. At the NRL he had a very successful career applying X-ray analysis to the study of materials. He then pioneered the application of sounding rockets to solar physics, aeronomy, and astronomy. Later in his life he served as a statesman and public advocate for science. Friedman retired from the Naval Research Laboratory in 1980 but maintained an active association with the laboratory and the scientific community until his death. In 1996, on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, he received the NRL Lifetime Achievement Award and was