LIVERMORE, CALIF. -- Director Emeritus Roger Batzel, who served as the director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for more than a third of its history, from 1971 to 1988, died Saturday, July 29. Dr. Batzel was 78.
LLNL Director Bruce Tarter noted that Dr. Batzel oversaw the Laboratory for 17 years that were very important in its development. "He played a crucial role in the growth and transition of our Lab from a defense and nuclear facility to a multi-program institution dedicated to solving the important scientific issues of our time," Tarter said. "He was a fine scientist and a broadly-experienced manager. I know the employees at the lab join me in extending our condolences to his family."
Dr. Batzel joined the Laboratory in 1953, a year after LLNL started, as assistant division leader in Chemistry. During his career, he served as the leader of the chemistry, nuclear testing, space reactors and biomedical research directorates.
During his tenure as the Laboratory's sixth director, LLNL experienced major growth. In 1971, LLNL had 5,400 employees and a budget of $128 million. When he stepped down in 1988, there were 8,000 employees, with an additional 2,000 contract workers, and an annual budget of $815 million.
As LLNL's sixth director, Dr. Batzel succeeded Herb York, 1952-58; Edward Teller, 1958-60; Harold Brown, 1960-61; John Foster, 1961-65; and Michael May, 1965-71. Directors who followed Dr. Batzel have been: John Nuckolls, 1988-94 and Bruce Tarter, 1994 to current.
A native of Idaho, Dr. Batzel received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Idaho after serving as an Air Force navigator during World War II. In 1951, he received his Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry at UC Berkeley studying under Nobel laureate Glenn Seaborg's direction.
Among his many honors, he was a fellow of the American Physical Society, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a recipient of one of the Department of Energy's highest awards, the Distinguished Associate Award.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 54 years, Edwina, of Danville; daughters, Stella of Washington, and Stacy of San Ramon; son, Roger of Davis; and grandsons, Chris and Sam of San Ramon.
Private funeral arrangements are pending for Dr. Batzel, who served the longest tenure of any LLNL director. A memorial service will be held later for him. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions in Dr. Batzel's memory be made to the American Heart Association, 11200 Golf Links Road; Oakland, CA 94605.