In Memoriam

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Louis George Stang ’41

A picture of Louis Stang

Louis George Stang ’41, December 1, 2010, at home in West Simsbury, Connecticut. Louis earned a BA from Reed in chemistry, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. One of his lasting memories of Reed was practicing on the pipe organ in the Eliot Hall chapel. Following graduation, he attended the California Institute of Technology as a student and instructor in analytical chemistry. After the U.S. entered World War II, his mentor at Cal Tech encouraged him to join the National Defense Research Council in Illinois. There he met coworker Dorian Heintz; they married in 1943, and were employed at the Metallurgical Laboratory in Evanston. From there, they went to the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Louis was assigned the task of producing 50 curies of barium-lanthanum-140. To meet this spectacular challenge and to overtake German and Russian military efforts, technology had to be invented and employed to construct the laboratory, the handling equipment, and also the reactor, which became known as the Stang reactor. “Dr. Robert Oppenheimer gave him exactly 365 days to accomplish this. A wager of one nickel was placed by Oppenheimer's team that this couldn't be done. That nickel was to become Louis and Dorian's most prized possession.” Following the war, radioisotope production was used primarily for medical purposes, and the couple went to Upton, New York, to design, build, and operate the hot lab at Brookhaven National Laboratory. They retired in Florida. Louis and Dorian were humble and devout individuals, as well as gifted musicians, who possessed a great sense of adventure. Louis was founder and editor of the journal of the American Nuclear Society, Nuclear Applications, and was a recipient of the American Nuclear Society's distinguished service award. Survivors include three sons and six grandchildren. Dorian also died in 2010.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2011

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