University Letter

UND's faculty and staff newsletter

Remembering Henn H. Soonpaa

Henn H. Soonpaa, 80, Grand Forks, died unexpectedly Thursday, July 1, in St. Mary’s Hospital, Rochester, Minn.

Henn Soonpaa was born to Karl Johannes and Antonie (Adamson) Soonpaa on March 18, 1930, in Tallinn-Nomme, Estonia. He was raised and educated there until the family left Estonia to escape Communist occupation. They lived in Geislingen, Germany, for four years until moving to the United States in 1949. In 1949, he entered Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., and graduated in 1951. He earned a master’s in Chemistry from the University of Oregon in 1952 and a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich., in 1954.

After a short period of military service in 1956, Henn began additional graduate studies in Physics at Iowa State University. He taught at Gustavus Adolphus College from 1958 to 1959. Henn and Eunice Refsell were married June 26, 1959, in Minneapolis, Minn. While in Minneapolis, he was employed by General Mills and Honeywell in Industrial Research. In 1966, the family moved to Grand Forks, where Henn had accepted a teaching position at the UND. He regularly presented at national and international conferences and was a member of several professional societies. He retired from UND as Professor Emeritus of Physics in 1994. Henn continued to attend Friday afternoon Physics Seminars through this academic year.

Henn enjoyed studying Estonian history, hunting pheasants with his Brittany Spaniels, fishing in the Boundary Waters, and tending his vegetable garden.

He is survived by his wife, Eunice, Grand Forks; children, Nancy Soonpaa, Lubbock, Texas, and Mark (Kris) Soonpaa, Indianapolis, Ind.; sisters, Heljo Alari, Greenwood, Minn., and Maie Lippand, Garden Grove, Calif. He was preceded in death by his parents.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Calvary Lutheran Church Foundation Fund.