May 20, 2005  


Chinese Lion Dance Honors Panofsky on his Birthday

By Vickee Flynn

SLAC’s first director W.K.H. Pief Panofsky (DO) was honored on his 86th birthday with a traditional Chinese celebration. According to Ellie Lwin (DO), “You are given such a party in your honor when your children are doing well, grandchildren are also thriving, and your legacy is obvious and considerable. It says you have done your life’s work very well indeed, and your beneficiaries offer their respect and gratitude. And you have to be about 75 years old.”

At Pief Panofsky's birthday celebration, the blessing on the banner can be translated as: May your luck be as broad as the East [China] Sea and may your longevity be as high/tall as the South Mountain.
Translated by Pisin Chen (ARDA)
(Photo by Diana Rogers)

The fact that on relatively short notice a large crowd gathered to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ led by Jamie Davis, speaks volumes of Panofsky’s legacy. From one, many generations have come and thrived. He built this world class lab for us, his contributions to the national and international science policy and arms control community are considerable and, very importantly, he is respected as much for his character as for his work. His way of leadership is collegial; he is kind, inclusive, the soul of politesse and funny.

A Chinese ritual also speaks to Panofsky’s many significant scientific and governmental affinities to China. Lion dances and dragon dances are performed for important, auspicious occasions as a way to confer our best wishes for the honoree. Lions are considered peaceful and divine animals of nobility and dignity. They symbolize strength, courage and wisdom. The calligraphy banner was made for Panofsky just for this occasion, and the phrase is a classical one reserved for honored characters. It’s full meaning is not simply ‘happy birthday to you’ but appropriately represents much more.


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Last update Tuesday May 24, 2005 by Topher White