Sherman Wu

Sherman Shou-Chou Wu, born on April 9, 1928, died at 92 years of age on August 22, 2020 with family by his side.

Astrogeologists know him as Dr. Mars for the integral role he played in creating the first topographical map of Mars and other interstellar bodies. The asteroid (2075), discovered on October 9, 1980, is named after him for his influential contributions. Even in his “retirement,” his expertise was highly regarded. He moved to Las Vegas from Flagstaff to work as a consultant with the U.S. Department of Energy.

To the people of his hometown, a remote village in China accessible only by foot, he remains an inspiration and benefactor. Neighboring villagers would welcome home their celebrity by setting off firecrackers, waving celebratory banners, and preparing a feast with only the best of their limited resources. His visits ended with them enthusiastically thanking him for the roads and schools he had built for them and flocking to him to bask in his exceptionalism, even if just for the briefest of moments. Even now, they are working to erect a monument in his honor as a beacon of hope to future generations.

He valued filial piety and academic excellence above all. His passion for mathematics translated to a passion for blackjack and other games involving probabilities and statistics. He loved deeply and widely, was generous with both his praises and criticisms, and approached all aspects of his life with perseverance, stubbornness, and grit tempered by a quick wit, charming smile, and roguish nature.

He will be forever remembered by his children Alan (Jessica), Stella, Dona (Louis), Rita (Brannon), and Doug. He will also be remembered by his grandchildren Brian, Sam, Ryker, Sofia, and Alexander; his sisters Xue Fen (Zhou Bing Guang) and Xue Huan; and his nieces and nephews Zhou Zengwen, Zhou Zengwu, Zhou Zengrong, Zhou Zengjian, Tian Jingsen, Tian Jinglin, Tian Jingrong, Tian Jingying, Sandy, and Atlas.

A memorial service will be live streamed on September 8, 2020, starting at 5 PM PDT from La Paloma Funeral Services at 5450 Stephanie St. Las Vegas, NV 89122. Please contact for link details.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made payable to the Sherman Wu Trust and sent to 566 South McCaslin Blvd #270743, Superior CO 80027.

11 Comments. Leave new

  • Kathleen Banninger
    September 9, 2020 1:57 pm

    I always enjoyed talking to Dr. Wu, very intelligent man. My condolences to his family and friends.

  • Will remember him, always smiling at work.
    Rest in peace

  • I started working at the USGS in late 1969 when I was a student at NAU and one of the first persons I met was Sherman. I was with the Survey for over 37 years and I remember that he was always so full of energy and had that smile that those of us who got to know him will always remember. He was enjoyable to be around at meetings or just talking in the hallway.

    R.I.P. Sherman

    Pat Chavez

  • Rhonda Hopkins
    September 9, 2020 7:21 pm

    I worked with Sherman at the Remote Sensing Laboratory and he was always such a sweet, gentle man. He took time out of his busy day to say hello every time I saw him. He was a good person. His family should be very proud of the great life he lived.

  • Mr. Wu was such an amazing man and I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to chat with him from time to time here at the RSL. He always reminded me about the importance of taking care of my health by reminding me of his hot water drinking and fish eating regiment. I also loved hearing about his stories of his home Village and his initial experiences when he left there for the first time. I always walked away from him smiling and feeling encouraged. He was missed very much when he retired and will be missed even more so now.
    God Bless Mr. Wu and his family.

  • Asa Von Sudderth
    September 10, 2020 1:17 pm

    God Bless you Sherman. I enjoyed working with such a brilliant man. You know, he mapped Mars… Such a great man that was kind, good and nice to anyone he met. He was always interesting to talk to with knowledge of a variety of different subjects.

  • Sherman was always very kind to me and I always appreciated that. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

  • Alan Will-Director Remote Sensing Laboratory (Ret)
    September 10, 2020 9:37 pm

    I worked with Sherman for many years at the Dept of Energy Remote Sensing Laboratory after he had worked a full career at USGS. Sherman was an eminent photogrammetrist and mathematician and made a number of important contributions to the work at the lab and national security. I have many fond memories of my times with Sherman both at work and outside. He had an immense amount if energy and enthusiasm for everything he did. Many people may not know that Sherman had one of the most beautiful signing voices and I loved to hear him sing the Chinese songs. Sherman was definitely one of a kind all the way around! My condolences to the family

  • Martin Stillion
    October 5, 2020 7:45 am

    I have fond memories of working for Sherman at USGS while I was in high school. It didn’t turn into a career, but I’m grateful for the time he invested in me. Rest in peace!

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  • Jerry Joseph Lorenz
    June 26, 2021 8:31 pm

    Sherman has been a friend of mine since the mid-1980’s. I became involved with him when he was mapping the potential Yucca Mountain repository site in Nevada. He used to call me in Las Vegas from Flagstaff around noon every Friday. We became close friends, and after I recommended him for a position with the Remote Sensing Laboratory in Las Vegas, He began treating me and my wife to dinner every year on my birthday. He enjoyed playing blackjack and always won back his treat money when we were at a casino. I edited articles and other documents for him as a favor, including his over-sized 200-page book: THE DR WU I KNOW – For Celebration of Dr Wu’s 80 Years Young – 2007. An acknowledgement of my help and three photos of my wife and I are included in the book. Sherman took great joy in educating his children, and his efforts were rewarded with exceptionally well-educated and successful adults. Sherman was very careful with his health and frequently forecast his determination that he was going to live to 120. Unfortunately, he was wrong about that.


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