Hoang Dothe of Wellesley, Massachusetts passed away unexpectedly from cardiac arrest on June 1 st , 2020. He was 60 years old. A loving and devoted son, husband and father, he was adored for his deeply thoughtful, passionate and sincere nature, as well as a tendency to make people laugh. He will be forever missed.
Hoang was born on December 14 th , 1959 in Saigon, Vietnam (now Ho Chi Minh City). A bright, inquisitive and mischievous young boy, Hoang spent his younger years reading “The Adventures of Tin Tin” and playing with his cousins in the courtyard. Son to the famous violinist/conductor, Phiet Dothe and pianist, Thuyen Nguyen, Hoang developed a love for music at an early age and could often be heard playing violin on the radio. He graduated from the National Conservatory in Saigon at age 13 and was a top student at Lycée Marie Curie, where he attended high school until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.
The family had planned to flee South Vietnam on the night of April 28 th , 1975 via plane, only to discover that the airport had been bombed earlier in the day. They unpacked all of their belongings, believing that they were stranded. But the next day, they received hurried notification that they would be able to escape after all, this time by boat. Hoang escaped Saigon on April 29 th on an American cargo ship with his mother, taking his violin with him as his single allowed baggage.
While spending several months on the U.S. Army Base in the Philippines, followed by Wake Island, and Fort Chaffee in Arkansas, Hoang practiced the violin all day, every day. He and his mother arrived at Weyers Cave Airport on Friday August 28, 1975 and were taken to their new home in Bridgewater, Virginia. Hoang immediately performed for their Rotary Club sponsors when they noticed his violin and asked him to play. The following Monday he enrolled at Turner Ashby High School, in the 11 th grade. He completed all of his required courses in one year and received his high school diploma at age 16.
During these first few years in America, he performed at many local events, music festivals and other venues, including an annual Rotary Club recital established to showcase Hoang and his mother’s piano students. While pursuing his undergraduate and graduate studies he also served as concertmaster of the universities’ orchestra in addition to his solo performances. He spent the summer of 1977 at the Tanglewood Institute in Lenox, Massachusetts, where he studied under many great violinists of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In 1980, he performed the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the orchestra at James Madison University. He also quickly became an avid football fan during this period, particularly a Washington Redskins fan. He later became a New England Patriots fan when he moved to Boston.
Hoang graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Bridgewater College in 1980 and then was awarded a full scholarship to attend The Johns Hopkins University, where he received a Ph.D in theoretical physical chemistry in 1987. He performed his thesis work with the physics department, exploring group theoretical techniques for the analysis of atomic energy levels. Hoang completed postdoctoral studies at Boston University, and in 1989, was selected as a Geophysics Scholar at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Hanscom AFB where he developed quantum mechanical models to calculate collision cross sections relevant to the Earth’s atmosphere. He then continued his research in aeronomy at the Air Force Geophysics Laboratory from 1992 to 1998, working for Mei Technology Corp. and Yap Analytics Inc. Since joining the scientific staff at Spectral Sciences Inc. in 1998, his research continued to focus on chemical kinetics, spectroscopy, high temperature combustion, and aeronomy. He led the high- altitude research group, developing software describing the infrared and ultraviolet radiative environment of quiescent and disturbed atmospheres. He demonstrated how to efficiently couple this software to target recognition and ray tracing algorithms. More recently, he has developed spectroscopic techniques and software tools to help understand the chemistry and
high-temperature environment produced by high-energy explosives. Recalling their collaboration on a grant from NASA, his former adviser described Hoang as “terrific to work with, always thinking about new angles to push the research and new ways to bring collaborations together, and tireless in his curiosity.”
He met his wife, Chaomei, during his post-doctorate studies at Boston University, by the graduate student mailboxes. They married in June 1992 and together have one daughter, Emily.
Alongside his career in science, his love for music never wavered; every week during the concert season for the past 33 years, Hoang could be found at Symphony Hall listening to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Whether he was by himself or accompanied by family and friends, it was through music he found the most satisfaction and tranquility.
A purposeful, modest, sentimental and cultured man, Hoang had so much to offer and spread wisdom, insight and good laughs to everyone around him. He had a remarkable ability to make people feel at ease, often leading to exciting discussions over wine and cheese around art, history, politics and travel, in addition to music and science. His enthusiastic spirit and genuine pursuit of new knowledge will continue to inspire those who knew him.
Hoang is survived by his wife, Chaomei, his mother, Thuyen, and his daughter, Emily. Due to Covid-19 limitations, a large memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Boston Symphony Orchestra in memory of Hoang Dothe at BSO.org/contribute.