Joseph A. Baicker, 90
Founder of Princeton Gamma Tech
August 30, 1927 – February 21, 2018
Joseph Baicker, 90, died on February 21 in his Montgomery Township home. Joe was born in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania on August 30, 1927 to Harry and Cecile Baicker. He graduated from Wyoming Seminary, Yale University, and earned a doctorate in nuclear physics from Columbia University. His education was interrupted by a tour in the Merchant Marines during the Korean Conflict. Joe married Maxine Hofheimer of Norfolk, Virginia in 1955 and in 1959 moved to Montgomery, where he served on township committee and was deputy mayor.
In 1965, Joe and his graduate school friend Al Sayers founded Princeton Gamma Tech (PGT), which became a leading manufacturer of semiconductor gamma ray and x-ray detectors, and grew to more than 200 employees. They designed and manufactured scientific instruments that are widely used today to locate uranium deposits for mining companies, to measure sulfur in fuel oil, and to detect lead in gasoline and indoor paint — helping to avert untold cases of lead poisoning. The company developed solid-state devices for micro-chemical analysis of electron microscope samples, including instruments launched into space as part of the Apollo program.
Joe went on to found Radiation Data in 1986, which became a family business with his son, Keith, and grandson, Kyle. Under his leadership, Radiation Data became the leading radon measurement company in New Jersey, and one of the largest radon measurement firms in the United States. Continuing to work there every day and nurturing the success of colleagues as well as the business remained one of his greatest pleasures.
Joe traveled and lectured extensively, including under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Commission. But his favorite outing was a trip to the ShopRite, where the employees called to check on him if he didn’t show up daily. He was a prodigious tomato farmer, and shipped surplus crop to his sister Barbara in New York every week.
He did The New York Times crossword in ink, played mental chess with his kids while driving, and didn’t sort his cards when playing bridge. He loved tinkering in his shop at 903½ Cherry Hill Road, where he built beautiful furniture, made pens, designed elaborate puzzle boxes, fixed nearly anything, voided many warranties, and leaves an extensive collection of clamps.
Joe is survived by his wife and four children: Steve, the twins, Karen and Keith, Kate, and their pug, Lily. Daughters-in-law Carol and Mary Elizabeth, sons-in-law Paul and Alan, and seven grandchildren (Kyle, Eric, Sara, Jake, Lucy, Michael, and Andrew) also survive him.