May 30, 1915–October 21, 1994
BY LOUIS D. SMULLIN
JEROME WIESNER—JERRY to almost everybody—led an exciting and productive life and, more than most, he made a difference. His career, the offices he held and the honors he received are spelled out in the MIT obituary notice at the time of his death. As interesting and impressive as is the list of offices and honors, even more interesting is his transformation from a young engineer just out of college to an “electronic warrior” during World War II, to a “cold warrior” during the early days of the “missile gap,” and finally to a leading spokesman for the nuclear test ban and a worker for nuclear disarmament.
Jerry and his younger sister, Edna, were the children of Joseph and Ida Wiesner, each of whom had come to the United States at about the turn of the century. To escape having to take violin lessons, at age nineteen, Joseph had run away from his parents in Vienna in about 1892 and had shipped out to places as far away as Alaska and the California gold fields before landing in New York. (Edna remembers her father telling stories about meeting and drinking with Jack London in Alaska.) Ida had come from Romania to New York with her younger sister. She worked in the garment industry and then as a housekeeper until she and