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Fred Cranston - Humboldt State Now

Fred Cranston

Fred Cranston, a retired Humboldt State University physics professor, has died at age 84.

Carol Cranston said her father, whose background was in nuclear physics, was the first to shoot a laser beam across the HSU campus.

”He would get people excited about physics,” she said.

She said her father would write joke memos to his colleagues under the pseudonym Charles P. Franklin.

One dictated that professors have students bang erasers together to save chalk dust, because chalk was becoming scarce, said Cranston’s wife Jenny Cranston. Another specified that different colored cars park in different areas, made-up rules that Cranston described in “impossibly ridiculous” detail, Jenny Cranston said.

He wanted to continue learning throughout his life, signing up to take classes at HSU after his retirement at age 80, Carol Cranston said. She said her father also had a love of theater, and met his wife at the HSU theater in 1969.

Cranston died Tuesday after suffering a major stroke. He is survived by his wife, five children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Unitarian Fellowship, 24 Fellowship Way in Bayside.