Ojars J. Sovers

Ojars J. Sovers, PhD, passed away peacefully on November 11, 2022

SOVERS—Ojars J. Sovers, PhD, passed away peacefully at home in Florence, Ore., on November 11, 2022.

He worked for NASA at the Caltech Research Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., where he performed radio interferometric measurements to establish a coordinate reference frame for interplanetary spacecraft navigation that contributed to the new generation of Mars probes.

As a research scientist, Ojars worked for a number of years in Japan and attended conferences in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as well as Bordeaux, France, New Mexico and elsewhere. Ojars co-authored a book and numerous articles in professional journals.

Born on July 11, 1937 in Riga, Latvia, Ojars’ parents brought him to Germany during WWII in the fall of 1944 to escape the Soviet Russian advance. During the last months of the war in 1944 (in Europe, WWII ended in May 1945), while bombs where falling on cities, his accountant father and elegant mother had to work at a farm in Bavaria for sustenance, where they helped milk cows and spread manure.

After Germany was divided into occupation zones — French, British, American and Russian — seven-year-old Ojars and his parents were in the American zone. Housing, food, and used clothing were provided by Americans. Many professionals from Latvia and other refugees set up schools in their respective languages. Ojars started in a Latvian school.

Five years passed before sponsors from USA accepted many refugees. The family of three were sponsored by a farmer in Pennsylvania. After completing the contract of 6 months, they moved to Brooklyn, NY, where Ojars continued studying at Lincoln High School.

In 1954, he graduated with honors, became a citizen of the United States and started Brooklyn College, which he finished in 1958 with a major in physical chemistry, Summa Cum Laude. With the help of National Science Foundation scholarship he studied at Princeton University, earning a PhD in 1962. Then he had a two year postdoctoral appointment at Oxford University, England.

He met his wife, Zinta, in Brooklyn College, married in 1959; they traveled together for 63 years.

He leaves his grieving wife, her sister and her daughters with their families and many admiring friends.