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Science

Plans come together for funeral of late Hong Kong Nobel laureate Charles Kao

Two more books of condolence to be set up, in memory of ‘father of fibre optics’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2018, 11:58pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 October, 2018, 4:40pm

The funeral of late Nobel laureate Charles Kao Kuen will be held on October 7 or 8, his foundation has said.

And two more areas for public condolences would be set up on Thursday and Saturday, a spokeswoman for the Charles K. Kao Foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease said on Wednesday.

Gwen Kao Wong Mei-wan, Kao’s widow and the foundation’s chairwoman, said in a statement on Wednesday: “In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Charles K. Kao Foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease Limited or The Chinese University of Hong Kong for the Charles K. Kao Scholarship Endowment Fund would be appreciated.”

“The funeral will be on October 7 or 8 according to preliminary planning, pending venue,” the spokeswoman said.

Chinese University, where Kao was vice chancellor from 1987 to 1996, had set up a committee to help plan the funeral in accordance with Gwen Kao’s wishes.

The foundation announced a condolence book would be set up at St Joseph’s College on Thursday and another in the foundation’s office in Wan Chai on Saturday for the public to express condolences and sympathies. Kao, born in Shanghai in 1934, attended the college before leaving Hong Kong to study electrical engineering in London, graduating in 1957.

The university had already set up a book of condolence on Monday.

In 2010 – eight years after Kao was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the Kaos founded the Charles K. Kao Foundation to raise public awareness of the condition and to provide training and assistance to patients and their carers. In the same year, Chinese University established the Charles K. Kao Scholarship Endowment Fund to support undergraduates for overseas exchange and research internships, preferably those majoring in physics and engineering.

Why it took three decades to recognise genius of ‘father of fibre optics’

Kao battled Alzheimer’s for 16 years and had been in hospital for more than a month with pneumonia until he died on Sunday, at the age of 84.

Known as the “father of optic fibres” for his groundbreaking achievements involving the transmission of light in fibres for optical communication, Kao won a joint Nobel Prize for physics in 2009, the Faraday Medal in 1989 and the Alexander Graham Bell Medal in 1985.

“As one of the last wishes of Professor Kao, our foundation will keep up our work in supporting people with Alzheimer’s and their families,” Gwen Kao said in a statement on Sunday.