Cover photo for Robert Zwingman's Obituary
Robert Zwingman Profile Photo

Robert Zwingman

January 9, 1948 — December 24, 2023

Robert Zwingman

January 9, 1948 — December 24, 2023

Dr. Robert Zwingman (Bob) was born in Norfolk, Nebraska to Clarence and Margaret Zwingman on January 9, 1948. Robert and his siblings would walk to a 1-room schoolhouse to their elementary school. When he was 9 years old, the family packed up and moved to California and settled in Salinas where Clarence established a farming and fertilizer business.

Robert attended St. Mary’s Elementary School and graduated from Palma High School in 1966 in Salinas. In high school he played football and ran track, setting the school record for the 1-mile run. He loved to experiment figure out how things worked. His interest in electronics started at a young age when he decided to take apart, and put back together the family’s tube TV, much to the chagrin of his mom and dad.

He was awarded a scholarship to attend Santa Clara University where he graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Electrical Engineering with honors in 1970 and was part of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering honors society. During the summers he would work in the fields near Salinas picking strawberries and lettuce. In 1969 he worked at NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field where he designed electrical circuits for a flight to the Arctic region.

Bob obtained a fellowship and attended graduate school at Rice University in Houston, Texas in 1971. He drove his beloved VW Bug everywhere including driving it from California to Texas. He received both his Masters of Science and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis in Magnetics and Semiconductor Device Physics in 1976. He would volunteer at the St. Luke’s Medical Center and Texas Children's Hospital working as an electronics technician. While at Rice, he was a bartender at an on-campus graduate student pub named Valhalla. In his apartment in Houston, he took apart his VW Bug car engine and it was in pieces in the apartment living room for months.

At Rice University is where he met the love of his life, Pam Sperry, in a graduate school lab working on a ruby laser. You could say they zapped each other at first sight.

After obtaining his PhD from Rice, he got a job at Burroughs Corporation and moved to San Diego, California in 1976. Pam also moved to California and they were married in Escondido, California in 1976. Believe it or not, Bob planned the wedding as Pam finished her PhD degree in Developmental Biology also at Rice University. 

Their first son, Thomas Brian Zwingman (Tom), was born close to (some people say in) the San Diego Zoo on July 19, 1977. A year later the family moved to Walnut, California. Their second son, James Michael Zwingman (Jim), was born at their home in Walnut, California on June 29, 1982.

As a loving father of his two sons, he actively participated in the many soccer, baseball, and football games. He was a judge in the Gator Games math competition helping kids solve complex math problems. He would help Tom and Jim with woodwork, building office desks, a dog house, and a go kart that won first place in a race. As a result of Bob’s influence, both of his children became engineers. They had a vacation weekend home in Big Bear, California to enjoy sledding and hiking. The family enjoyed vacations to Europe, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Disney World, the inaugural Disney cruise, and numerous family vacations to Texas and Salinas, CA.

Bob started a job with Rockwell International Corporation in Anaheim, California in 1978. Over the years, Rockwell moved to Newport Beach, CA and with the company changing names to Conexant Systems, Jazz Semiconductor, and finally TowerJazz Semiconductor. Over the course of his 35+ year career, he was awarded 13 United States Patents including working on the original semiconductor electronics technology and a patent that was part of the initial modems for the internet. He obtained the title of Distinguished Engineer, the highest technical level in the company. He would travel the world to places such as Japan, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Israel, South Korea, as well as multiple locations in the United States. He retired and was glad to say goodbye to the long and traffic-filled commute that is Southern California.

After retirement, Bob enjoyed playing Sudoku puzzles and researched and documented genealogy of the family. He could do some of the hardest Sudoku puzzles in minutes. His genealogy research led him back many generations on both sides of the family with relatives dating to the 1600’s.

Pam and Bob loved to travel and enjoyed incredible vacation trips to Australia, Japan, England, France, Italy, Ireland, and Germany.

In 2010, they welcomed their first grandchild, Emma Marie Zwingman and in 2013 their second grandchild was born, Alexander Thomas Zwingman (Alex). Bob enjoyed many adventures and trips with the grandkids, sharing his love of Sudoku, going to numerous sports games, and passing down his passion for genealogy.

Bob is survived by his wife, Pam, his sons Tom (Sarah), Jim, his grandchildren, Emma and Alex, and his siblings, David Zwingman, Sharon Socha (Wayne), Duane Zwingman (Melody), Alice Pellerin (Vince), and Alan Zwingman (Natalie). 

The services to celebrate Bob’s life will include a visitation service on January 26, 2024 from 5-9pm at Forest Lawn Covina Hills memorial chapel. On January 27, 2024 at 10am there will be a memorial service at the Walnut United Methodist Church, followed by a graveside service at Forest Lawn Covina Hills. Afterwards there will be a reception at Walnut United Methodist Church.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Prayer Service of Robert Zwingman

Friday, January 26, 2024

5:00 - 9:00 pm (Pacific time)

Forest Lawn - Covina Hills - Church of our Heritage

21300 Via Verde Drive, Covina, CA 91724

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Funeral Service of Robert Zwingman

Saturday, January 27, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Pacific time)

Walnut United Methodist Church

20601 La Puente Road, Walnut, CA 91789

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