Peter Kung-Liang Cheo
— Peter KungLiang East Lyme Cheo, 93, of Niantic, Conn., passed away on Feb. 26, 2023 at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London.
Born Feb. 2, 1930, in Nanjing, China, Peter was the son of Henry Ming-Yi Zhou and Eva Wen-Zhen Shao. He came to the U.S. at the age of 18 under a full scholarship from St. John’s University in Minnesota. He transferred to Aurora University in Illinois where he earned a B.S. degree in physics and mathematics in 1951. He received an M.S. degree at Virginia Tech in 1952.
He took a job as professor of physics at Bethany College in Kansas, where he met and married Dorothy Ober on Aug. 18, 1956. He went on to earn a Ph.D. degree from Ohio State University in 1963.
Peter made significant contributions to the field of laser research. He worked for 20 years at United Technologies Research Center in East Hartford, Conn., as senior principal scientist and leader of the Electro-Optics Technology Group. In 1990 he became chair of the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Connecticut, where he developed a Photonics Research Center and graduate-level program. After retiring from UConn at the age of 79, he continued research on high power fiber laser systems through his own private company, PC Photonics.
Throughout his 45-year career, Peter was awarded 20 U.S. patents, published two graduate-level textbooks, wrote over 100 technical articles and was an invited speaker at dozens of professional conferences around the world. His inventions and innovations had a wide range of applications, including jet engine control, satellite communications, remote sensing of planetary atmospheres, inspection of underground power cable insulation, nuclear fusion and national defense systems. One of his patented devices was installed at the observatory on top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, 11,000 feet above sea level, for measuring the atmosphere of Mars and Venus. Another was used to determine exact colors for the restoration of Italian cathedral paintings.
In his memoir, Peter said he was satisfied with everything he was involved in and accomplished in his life. The only thing he regretted was never being able to see his parents again after leaving China in 1948, because of the political tensions between China and the West.
Outside of his work, Peter enjoyed downhill skiing, classical music, writing his memoir, traveling many places around the world, and visiting New York City for Chinese cuisine and Broadway shows. In the latter two he was always accompanied by his wife, Dorothy. In his memoir he said, “I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue higher education in the U.S. and make important contributions in my field. I am also very lucky to have a caring and loving wife who has stood behind me throughout these years for better or for worse. We have raised a large family; all of them are contributing to society in their own way. We are very proud of them. If I had to do it all over again, I would probably be doing the same thing.”
Peter is survived by his wife, Dorothy Cheo of Niantic, sister Polly Zhou McElvaney of Silver Spring, Md.; daughter and son-in-law Emily and Richard Thomsen of Quonochontaug, R.I.; son Kenneth Cheo and his partner, Darlene Calcagno of Hanover, Mass.; son and daughter-in-law David and Lynette Cheo of Kensington, Md.; daughter and son in-law Martha Cheo and Dale Corzine of New Paltz, N.Y.; son and daughter in-law Stanley and Chris Cheo of Aspen, Colo.; and grandchildren Kirsten and Ray Thomsen; Savannah, Tyler, Silas, Madison and Carter Cheo; and Riley Corzine.
The family is planning a Celebration of Life at a future date TBA. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to Aurora University at www.aurora.edu/give. Condolences can be sent to Dorothy Cheo, 17 Compass Court, Niantic, CT, 06357. To sign the online guest book visit www. fultontherouxniantic.com.