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Eulogy to Ken Tarby

Story by Kurt Pfitzer

Wise teacher and trusted adviser, dedicated administrator and Carnac the Magnificent, Stephen Kenneth “Ken” Tarby, who died this month at the age of 82, filled many roles and played them all with relish and competence in 41 years on the Lehigh faculty.

“Ken Tarby was a true gentleman and a devoted and dedicated teacher, highly respected by the faculty and loved by students,” said his colleague Martin P. Harmer, professor of materials science and engineering. “He was indeed one of Lehigh’s finest and a steady rock for our department for years.

“We were all spoiled in having Ken as our associate chair, especially when it came to undergraduate advising. When an undergraduate student asked me for advice, all I had to say was three magic words — ‘see Dr. Tarby!’”

“Ken was a dear friend for over 30 years,” said Sharon Coe, event coordinator for the materials science and engineering department. “He was the rock of the department—dependable, likeable, honest, funny and a real gentleman.”

“The welfare of all materials science undergraduates was very important to Ken,” said Charles Lyman, professor of materials science and engineering. “Even after he retired, he reviewed the schedules of our students, noting any deficiencies that needed correcting. And walking into his office, you were immediately put at ease as the classical music on his radio soothed you.”

Tarby joined the faculty of the department of materials science and engineering in 1961, when it was called the department of metallurgical engineering. Over the next four decades, he won kudos for his scholarship in thermodynamics and for his ability to teach difficult concepts to students. He also served his department as interim chair, as associate chair for more than 20 years and as the R.D. Stout Professor of materials science and engineering.

Read the full story as well as reflections from Richard Hertzberg ’65, professor emeritus of materials science and engineering, in the Lehigh University news story, In memoriam: Ken Tarby was a teacher with rare gifts.

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