Viktor Erwin Hampel passed away on Dec. 26, 2020, at the age of 90.
He was born in Vilnius, Lithuania, to Richard and Edith Hampel of German descent. His only sister, Gisela, was seven years older. The family faithfully attended the German Evangelical Lutheran Church and school.
In 1940, at the age of 10, Viktor’s life changed dramatically with the start of WWII. His family was forced to flee twice in the middle of the night, moving westward as refugees toward safety. As a young boy of 14 years of age, he experienced the Nazi propaganda and witnessed firsthand the destruction of Dresden. These experiences affected him deeply and he spoke of them often in his later years with a fuller understanding of the incredible tragedies experienced by him and others.
In spite of these events, he held onto his dream of becoming a scientist and inventor. He had a workshop, in which he would take things apart to see how they worked and run his experiments. This led to side jobs with which he earned money to help the family.
In 1950, at the age of 20, he received a one-year, full scholarship to study at the University of Mississippi. In America, he found hope and peace, and in 1952, immigrated as a refugee. His first job was at Sciaky Bros. in Chicago as a research technician in their development laboratory.
In Oak Park, Chicago, he met his lifelong love, Annelies, who also had recently immigrated from Germany. They were married in 1954, and shortly thereafter, Viktor was drafted into the Army during the Korean war. They were stationed at Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah. Through the GI bill, Viktor was able to continue his education at UCLA and graduated with a B.S. in physics.
Soon after, he read in Reader’s Digest of the work being done at Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (now LLNL). He applied and was hired as a physicist, and in 1960, the young family moved up to Livermore.
Viktor’s career at the LLNL was filled with creation, innovation and achievements. Through the lab, he continued his education and received his master's degree in nuclear engineering from UC Berkeley.
In the early 1960s, Vic worked as group leader for the PLUTO Nuclear Propulsion Program for nuclear cruise missiles. Later, he founded the Technology Information Systems Program, which developed and commercialized software to connect computers and allow dissimilar computers to talk to each other worldwide and in networks.
In 1987, he began a two-year assignment to the Pentagon, establishing a program for the protection of sensitive data using public key cryptology. After retiring from the lab in 1990, he continued consulting in Washington D.C with USAID and private firms in computer security before retiring in San Ramon.
Viktor’s faith in Jesus Christ became the cornerstone of his life, and his greatest joy was helping his family and friends live out their faith. He did this through encouraging letters, long conversations and financial support. He always had a heart to help the down trodden, as he remembered those who had helped him when he was in need.
In his later years, he enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren, teaching them to think creatively and pursue their dreams.
Viktor is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Annelies; his three daughters and their spouses, Angelica and George Gonzalez of Fresno, California, Karine and Andy Villeggiante of Santa Rosa, California, and Tania and Darryl Smith of Pleasanton, California; and by his seven grandchildren, David, Vanessa, Daniel, Michael, Bradley, Davis and Marcus; and great-granddaughter, Cecily.
We will always carry his loving memory in our hearts and will celebrate his life at a future date when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Memorial donations may be made in Viktor Hampel’s name to Kaiser Martinez Hospice, 200 Muir Road, Martinez, CA, 94553.