Rod in the field on one of his kite adventures with Ben Balsley's team.
I'm sad to post that Dr. Rod Frehlich, lidar phenomenology and signal processing guru, passed away last Friday in Boulder, Colorado. Rod finally lost his long and hard battle that had been a great ordeal for him and his loving wife Ilana.

It is sadly ironic that Rod's demise originated with a brain tumor, given that his extraordinary mind was what set him apart from his peers in the niche communities that are wave propagation, turbulence measurement, and lidar and radar signal processing and data analysis. A major portion of Rod's career work focused on coherent Doppler wind lidar and he provided breakthrough clarity on the underpinnings of those systems and how to optimize their performance, optimally assimilate their data, and apply them to challenges in meteorology and boundary layer physics.

Rod was kind enough to include me as a coauthor on a few of his numerous journal and conference papers.  We would dole out a small bit of data from one of our development or production lidar systems, and Rod would 'lay hands' on it, generating important new insights and results. Through the many years of his support to several CTI programs, I knew Rod to be perpetually upbeat and enthusiastic. It was often a challenge to wrap up our phone conversations. Those of you who ever discussed a technical topic on the phone with Rod know exactly what I mean.  He was a positive energy guy with unmatched skills and insights who always gave more than he received.

Rod spent most of his career with the University of Colorado at Boulder's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and since 1998 simultaneously served as a Scientific Visitor to the National Center for Atmospheric Research. While he made important contributions to both these institutions, he really was an asset for the greater coherent lidar community, as well as several related communities. And as such, the world has experienced a notable and significant setback with his passing.

Rod sitting in front of some lidar data.
A dance party will be held in Boulder sometime in the near future to celebrate Rod's life. Rod and Ilana's passion for dance was legendary, so such a memorial is most fitting.

Godspeed, Rod Frehlich. 

Bob Sharman
5/8/2012 01:30:46 am

Thanks Steve. This is very nice.

Paul Suni
5/8/2012 01:41:38 am

How very sad to hear. I still chuckle over the series of funny papers: Sonnenshein and Horrigan became "Sunshine in Oregon", Frehlich and Kavaya became "Frolick in Hawaii" and with a minor contribution by yours truly Suni and Kavaya became "Sunny in Hawaii". Rod was truly a great person.

5/19/2014 11:09:00 pm

Thanks for sharing:)

Dude Kerley
5/8/2012 03:31:04 am

I met Rod while we were both third year undergrad students at the University of Saskatchewan. We were room mates and house mates for several years.
I remember Rod most for his great sense of humor. He did not seem to mind very much when we moved his glasses while he was asleep. Upon awakening he had a difficult time finding them. One time he put a live bat (taken from an attic in the physics buiding I believe)in my bedroom.

5/8/2012 03:38:11 am

Dude - great comment and stories! Demonstrates Rod's sense of humor as well as his thick skin. You definitely need both if you choose to dabble in physics and especially lidar.

5/8/2012 06:42:03 am

Rod was a great coleague and friend and will be very much missing.

Suzanne WEstgaard
5/8/2012 09:46:11 am

I met Rod 20 years ago. He was a very special person. Not only was he a great scientist, but he was an upbeat gentleman with a great sense of humor. It was always not only fun, but also interesting to spend time with him.This is truly a great loss for his family, friends, colleagues, and scientists.

Melba Shepard
5/10/2012 02:08:31 am

Little did we know, in the dance community, of the genius of which you speak. Our love was for a favorite dance partner, a fun, light-hearted friend, and a leader in the dance community. Rod was modest about his accomplishments. Thank you, Steve, for enlightening us.

5/10/2012 02:19:47 am

Melba -
What a great and neat perspective! How important it is to maintain a flexible balance in life. Rod obviously achieved that and made every day count.

5/10/2012 03:54:31 am

I know Rod and Ilana from dancing with them for years. So cool to read a bit about another part of Rod's life. Thanks for writing this! Sounds like Rod will be missed in more than one community.

Duffy Keith
5/10/2012 12:47:48 pm

I, to, enjoyed Rod' sense of humor......and I can remember one time talking to him about his color radar work, and he explained it to me in very simple layman's terms, as though he was really enjoying talking about it to someone who know very little....He always had a smile on his face, and always asked me what I was up to when he saw me....I felt a lot of warmth from him....

Peggy Livingston
5/12/2012 03:29:26 am

Thank you for posting this. I met Rod over 23 years ago, when I was thinking of moving to Colorado and danced with him. After I moved here, he'd spin me around and tease me about getting dizzy. I loved his sense of humor and loved watching him and Ilana dance together. Their dancing was exquisite. We'll all miss Rod.

Don Lenschow
5/13/2012 06:20:55 am

Steve, A very nice tribute to Rod. He was a great resource for me on the intricacies of lidar, and always willing to spend time to pass on his knowledge and to share his insights. We will miss him.

Lorraine Beggs
5/13/2012 01:48:07 pm

There is a candle in the window for you dear friend and mentor. I first met you when I was all of 13 years old in Wilkie, Sask. You made a big impact on me then and throughout my life. You loved to dance way back then- all those weekend live bands that would come out from Saskatoon! There is a dumbness in my heart for you. "Gonna recommend you to the Spirit in the sky!" Hope to see you one day on the other side.

9/19/2012 12:55:14 pm

I feel you in dreams, that you are looking out for me!

Lorraine Beggs
9/19/2012 01:01:22 pm

You are with me in your afterlife and I feel it. I know when you are here! Love it! Put a candle in the window- you know that.

Loraine Burger
5/15/2012 02:48:18 am

I've known Rod for many years from dancing in Boulder. I am not surprised to hear about his excellence and enthusiasm in his primary endeavor; just what I'd expect from the Rod I knew. He was bright, conscientious, generous, upbeat, humorous - and what a fun dance partner and leader! He and Ilana have been great leaders in our beloved dance community. I will greatly miss him. Thanks, Steve, for this posting - an insight into a side of Rod of which I've had only a glimpse.

7/3/2012 09:29:00 am

Though I met Rod for just a few times only, I am deeply impressed by his scientific insights. Many of my works are based on the firm foundation set by him. We will miss him.

greg fenrick
8/9/2012 02:33:54 pm

Sorry to hear of his passing Had a great visit with him at last summers celebration in Wilkie Saskatchewan. Had not seen him since leaving Saskatchewan in 1963. We went to school together
and were also related My condolances to the family

Andrea Stierle
11/29/2012 11:53:43 pm

I just received an email from a friend who happened to be on a boat on the Danube River with Ilana recently. When they discovered that they both knew me, Ilana shared the news of Rod's death. Rod has been a friend since 1976 -- we were ballroom dance partners in San Diego. He even proposed all those long years ago. He was truly a gentlemen and a scholar and a dear, dear soul.

Nikola Vasiljevic
8/9/2013 08:40:28 pm

I shared an office at Risø DTU (know DTU WInd Energy) with Rod when I started my PhD. At that time I did not know that the GURU was sitting behind me for a few months. That was in June 2010.

I am very sad that he left us.

8/12/2013 09:18:37 pm

Thank you Steve for giving this very good presentation of one of my favorite academician. Dr rod Froehlich has been a pioneer in the University of Colorado and an inspiration for many worldwide. His works are a corner stone in those fields.

Debra Hallmark
9/25/2013 12:35:05 am

My husband and I had the pleasure of sharing a dinner table with Rod and his beautiful wife in Toulouse, France, while attending the CLRC in the summer of 2009. We are truly saddened by the news of his passing. Our sincere condolences to Ilana and their family.

Jenny Davis
12/16/2013 10:34:31 pm

The first time I saw him was at ISARS in 2008, where I was too starstruck to talk to him - I referred to his papers a lot for my PhD (on Doppler lidar). Then, at ISARS in Paris, 2 years later, I plucked up the courage and we had a long chat - I'm so glad to have had that opportunity, such a lovely guy, so sad to hear this news.

5/3/2014 11:26:57 pm

Thanks Steve. This is very nice

5/12/2014 08:19:26 pm

Great informative site:)

5/20/2014 05:38:00 am

thanks for your sharing, I appreciate this. keep up the good work

Peggy Livingston
5/31/2014 07:28:29 am

Comment deleted

Greg Crawford
7/31/2014 06:01:02 am

I'm awfully late to post here, but I hadn't heard this sad news. I just stumbled across a paper he wrote on the 'net and thought I'd see what became of him since I last looked him up. I'm sorry to hear he's passed on.
I met Rod when Steve Clifford invited me down from Canada to work at WPL/NOAA (through CIRES/U.Colorado) for a couple of years (1986-88), after my Masters. (I subsequently moved more directly into oceanography, so fell out of touch, though our paths did cross a couple more times.) Rod and I worked in the same lab, though on somewhat different things. I even lived at his place for the last couple of months I was there. We were both Canucks living "south of the border", so we enjoyed talking about the cultural differences between the two countries. He was smart as the dickens. He was a serious and intentional guy, but also loved to joke and have fun. He didn't seem to take the world too seriously (just seriously enough). He was quick to smile, with that broad grin of his. And, as noted elsewhere, it was clear he loved to dance. Thanks, Rod. Your warmth and humor were gifts to me at an important time, when I was in my still-impressionable mid-20's.


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