Duane Pontius

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Duane Pontius (born 1939 in Urbana, Illinois; died May 26, 2014 in Birmingham) was a physicist, educator, pianist and sculptor.

Pontius grew up in Tampa, Flordia and joined the U.S. Navy after fish school. He was elected for a scientific education program and went on to earn a bachelors degree in physics at Auburn University in 1962 before he was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1964.

Pontius served aboard the U.S.S. McCard and U.S.S. Wright, earning a National Defense Service Medal before his discharge in 1967. He returned to Auburn to complete a masters and Ph.D. in physics, then joined the faculty of the University of West Florida as an assistant professor of physics in 1973.

In 1975 Pontius moved to Birmingham to take a position at Southern Research Institute. He was promoted to director of the Physical Processes Section, specializing in pollution control technology until his retirement in 1998. During his retirement he taught a course in "The Physics of Music" at Birmingham-Southern College.

Pontius was also a talented pianist, artist and woodworker. He constructed violins, built model ships and filled books with sketches. He created a series of sculptures of ballet poses modeled by his wife, Sue, a ballet instructor. He helped design and construct sets and props for Ballet Arts of Gardendale productions.


  • Garrison, Greg (June 29, 2014) "Renaissance man taught physics, made violins and ballet sculptures." The Birmingham News