C. Peter Flynn

C. Peter Flynn

URBANA – Professor C. Peter Flynn, 76, of Urbana died Thursday (Oct. 27, 2011) at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana.

Peter was born Aug. 18, 1935, in Stockton-On-Tees, England. He married Marilyn Sheldon Flynn in June 1961, and they have one son, James Edward Flynn. He married Susan Kingston in June 1971, and they have three children, Derek Mather, Megan and John Patrick Flynn. Peter married Janice Kimpel in January 2005 in Urbana.

Peter grew up in a small village in Yorkshire, England, and was the first of his family to pursue an advanced degree, receiving his bachelor's and Ph.D. degrees in physics from the University of Leeds, both under full scholarship.

His first trip outside England was in 1960 to accept a post-doctoral position in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois. He spent the next 51 years at the University, achieving full professor rank in 1968 and serving as the director of the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory from 1978 through 1987.

A distinguished experimentalist, Peter made seminal contributions to several areas of condensed matter physics. In the 1960s, he utilized magnetic resonance for a fundamental study of the behavior and motion of defects and impurities in solids, an effort that culminated in his book, "Point Defects, an Introduction to the Properties of Imperfect Crystals." It remains the definitive source for this field. Later research focused on the magnetic and electrical responses of defects, and he then expanded his interests to surfaces and films, in addition to bulk specimens.

He spearheaded the acquisition, installation and modification of a low-energy electron microscope (LEEM), one of only a few LEEMs currently operational in the United States.

During his career, he published 262 peer-reviewed articles and supervised 31 Ph.D. dissertations. He was a Fellow of both the American Physical Society and of the American Society of Metals, and held a Fellowship at Christ's College, Cambridge, U.K., in 1966-1967.

Peter enjoyed several sports throughout his life, beginning with high jump, tennis, squash and soccer in England, and a continuing pursuit of tennis and squash with colleagues at the University. He developed a great passion for hiking in the American West, particularly the Sierra Nevada. He took up golf later in life, and it was on the Urbana Country Club course that he met Janice.

He also enjoyed applying his physics expertise and creative mind to a large number of home improvement projects, not always quite completing one before moving on to the challenge of a new one.

Peter was a voracious reader, which provided much of the fuel for the spirited discussions for which Peter was so well-known. His steady optimism and dedication to an energetic life filled with joyful pursuits has and will continue to inspire all of those who knew him.

Peter is survived by his wife, Janice; all four of his children, Jim (Kerianne) Flynn of New York City, New York, Derek (Elizabeth) Flynn of Oak Park, Megan Flynn of Minneapolis, Minn.; and John Flynn of London, England; his sister, Joan (Richard) Legard of Mojacar, Spain; three grandchildren, Alice, John and Declan Flynn; his niece, Sue Hall, and two nephews, Christopher and Nicholas Hall.

Memorial contributions may be made to the University of Illinois Foundation.

A celebration of life service will be held at a later date. Condolences may be offered at www.renner-wikoffchapel.com.