UNH mourns loss of longtime physics professor

Friday, October 22, 2021

The University of New Hampshire community is mourning the loss of Dr. Karsten Pohl, a member of the physics faculty since 2000 who served as chair of the department for five years.

Dr. Karsten Pohl, beloved husband, father, brother, son, uncle, professor, and friend to everyone he met, died suddenly on October 13, 2021. He was 59.

Karsten was born in Bielefeld, Germany on May 25,1962 to Karl-Heinz and Ingeborg Pohl. On May 19, 1991 he married JoAnn Adinolfi, the love of his life, whom he met in 1987 on the Staten Island Ferry. Karsten studied at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich and received his PhD in Physics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997.

In 2000, he joined the faculty of the University of New Hampshire Department of Physics. This accomplishment was a dream come true and Karsten treated this position with the utmost care, respect and responsibility it deserved. He took great pride in supporting and mentoring his students on their successful paths to higher education in all fields especially physics. He served as chair of the department for five years.

Karsten had a brilliant mind: give him a problem and he could solve it, give him a broken toaster, bicycle or computer and he could fix it. He took pride in renovating his family home with his late father-in-law, James Adinolfi, and treasured the carpentry skills he acquired from him.

Karsten was a man of the utmost honesty and integrity. He knew how to live well. He saw the good in all. He had a dry and quick sense of humor and exuberant love of life. He was a provider who loved his family above anything else. If you needed Karsten, he was there. He always was ready to hop on a plane or in a car to get to those who needed him. Karsten always went the extra mile; no distance was too far to visit a friend or family member; no occasion was too small to celebrate. He never forgot a birthday or an anniversary and joyfully organized events for students and faculty of the physics department. He loved his job and joyfully attended each and every open house at the university to introduce new students to the wonderful world of physics, his world.

Every Sunday morning the table was set, the coffee ground, music played and the family gathered to eat. He could cook a perfect egg. He knew how to keep families and friends together over long distances of time and space. Karsten was handsome, loved to travel, hike in the Alps, drink wine in Italy and Ouzu in Greece, smoke cigars in the Caribbean, and kayak in the Florida Everglades. He was an avid fan of his beloved hometown soccer team, Arminia Bielefeld, and most of all, where there was beer, Karsten was joyfully found.

He was good through and through and his goodness was contagious. In the case of Karsten Pohl, the saying was indeed true that there was not a bad bone in his body. His greatest pride was being Hans and Gemma’s father. His greatest pleasure was spending time with his family. He organized party games, hid Easter eggs, baked cakes for birthdays, and German specialties for Christmas. He even made jam from the grapes and berries his wife grew in their backyard and lovingly presented her with a bouquet of peonies, her favorite flower, each year without fail on their wedding anniversary.

He will be profoundly missed by his wife of 30 years, JoAnn, his daughter, Gemma and son, Hans, parents Karl-Heinz and Ingeborg, sister, Sabine, and brother-in-law Gianpiero, niece and nephew, Marta and Enrico, mother-in-law, Josephine, brother and sister-in-law in law, James and Mary and niece, Gabrielle, and sister and brother-in-law Donna and Douglass. He leaves behind an international group of friends and colleagues in the thousands, who mourn the loss of the man who touched their lives with boundless generosity and good will.

The Adinolfi-Pohl family intends to establish the Dr. Karsten Pohl Scholarship Fund at the University of New Hampshire as a memorial tribute to support the Physics Department. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to: The University of New Hampshire Foundation, Inc. 9 Edgewood Road, Durham, NH 03824 please memo check to state: The Dr. Karsten Pohl Scholarship Fund Or https://www.unh.edu/give/about-foundation Click “Give” then select “Other” and note The Dr. Karsten Pohl Scholarship TID: 02-0437506

Services: A Memorial Visitation will be held at J. Verne Wood Funeral Home – Buckminster Chapel, 84 Broad Street, Portsmouth on Saturday, October 23, 2021 between 2 pm and 5 pm. A memorial service at the University of New Hampshire in honor of Dr. Karsten Pohl will take place in early December.