Peter Owen Lauritzen

February 14, 1935 - October 16, 2022


Peter Lauritzen passed away on Oct. 16, 2022 nourished at the end by the presence of family and friends and the caring services of Jefferson Home Health and Hospice.

Pete was born in Indiana and grew up in Glen Ellyn and Rock Island, Illinois. As a boy he was fascinated by trains and the night sky. He traveled west for college at Cal Tech, then to grad school at Stanford. After earning his Ph.D, he spent six months as a post-doc in Zurich, a triple immersion in German language, Swiss social life and skiing.

In 1963, while working in the early semi-conductor business, he married Helen Janzen, and in 1965 the couple moved to Seattle, where they raised two daughters.

As Professor of Electrical Engineering at University of Washington from 1965-1999, Pete was an esteemed teacher and beloved mentor. In 1997, he received a Fulbright Award to teach at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras (now Chennai) and in 1999 gave courses at Aalborg University in Denmark. Pete, ever curious, delighted in making connections across cultures; the India post was particularly rewarding because of Pete’s lifelong interest in Eastern spirituality.

As a couple, Pete and Helen were exemplars of community activism. In 1973 they ran a state-wide nuclear safeguards initiative. During the 1980’s, when much citizen diplomacy with the Soviet Union was taking place, they worked with the Seattle-Tashkent Sister City Committee, traveling to the USSR and hosting Russian and Uzbek visitors in their home.

After retirement Pete and Helen moved to Port Townsend, joining the Rosewind Co-housing community, where Pete offered his many gifts to a long list of committees, including steering, documents, fruit, irrigation and geek. He served as Chair of the Port Townsend Non-Motorized Transportation Advisory Board and was awarded the Barbara Marseille Award for Community Service. In 2013 he joined the Jefferson County PUD’s first Citizens Advisory Board.

For fun and relaxation he kayaked, grew food in the community garden, and bicycled on group rides with the PT Bicycle Association, with close friends, or alone. He claimed to love climbing hills; he was often spotted barreling down them.

Pete will be remembered for his encyclopedic brain, his generous nature, his irreverent sense of humor and unique laugh, his iconoclasm and his great love of life. In his 80’s, as mobility lessened, Pete cherished his role as Earth steward, ever tending his orchard and plant starts.

Pete is survived by his wife Helen, daughters Beth and Margo, grandchildren Kira, Jodi and Kepler, and by his sister Bertha Mount. A celebration of his life will take place in the new year.