Fred G. LaViolette
1916 - 2008

© 2008  P. LaViolette

Fred's motto was "be happy."  This was something I would often hear my father repeat.  He had an optimistic heart-warming demeanor and pleasantness that would bring a smile to those around him.  People who knew him and remembered him commented on his intelligence and knowledge on almost any subject, his modesty, and genuine friendliness.  When particularly happy Fred would sometimes sing any of various oldies tunes.  Other times he would recite poetry.  Some of his favorite poems are listed below.  During his years of retirement he loved social gatherings and in public would even strike up conversations with complete strangers who he would befriend.  Earlier this year he came with me to Union Station in Washington, DC where I was to pick up a suitcase we had shipped from Schenectady.  Since he had difficulty walking, he waited for me seated at a table at one of the fast food shops inside the bustling station.  When I had returned I found him in deep conversation with a young fellow who had sat down at the table to eat a sandwich.  Dad was in deep conversation with him discussing the virtues of subquantum kinetics, one of his favorite topics of conversation.  The youth apparently had studied physics and was on his way to being converted.
Paul LaViolette, December 2, 2008

His favorite poems:  The Face on the Bar Room FloorCasey at the Bat  (both of which he could recite by heart from the time he was in high school),  If by Rudyard Kipling.  Here you can listen to one of his recitations of  The Face on the Bar Room Floor.

Some favorite authors:  Lowell Thomas (author of Lawrence of Arabia), and many others.  He was a prolific reader.  He also was fond of the Seth book series by Jane Roberts.  Also in the last year of his life he got most of the way through the Bible.

Some favorite actors:  Will Rogers,  Alec Guiness,  Anthony Quinn,  Kathryn Hepburn,  Humphrey Bogart,  Ingrid Bergman,  Lauren Bacall,  Charlie Chaplin,  Bob Hope,  Sean Connery,  Harrison Ford

Some favorite TV programs:  Andy Rooney on 60 minutes,  As Time Goes By,  Keeping up Appearances

Hobbies:  amateur radio (he built his own radio and transmission tower), photography (he developed his own pictures), model airplane gliders, sailing (owned and maintained his own boat), reading, geneology and family history, and subquantum kinetics (few knew as much about it as he).

Favorite sayings:  Fred had a host of sayings which he had picked up during his earlier years.  One he learned from his neighbor Charlie Uphan would come out when he saw you trying to pick an overly ripe apple out of the bag.  It went something like this: "If you eat the spoiled apples first, you'll always be eating spoiled apples."  Once Fred saw Uphan pick up a piece of food that had fallen on the floor, wipe it off, and eat it.  Then Uphan commented "everyone eats a peck of dirt before they die."  And so this was an often repeated maxim in Fred's repertoire.



Daily Gazette, October 30, 2008

  Fred G. LaViolette, 92, of Niskayuna, New York, passed away at Albany Medical Center on October 27, 2008. He was born in Alamo, Michigan on March 26, 1916. At the age of 8 he lost his father who was a merchant farmer and who also owned a traveling vaudville show of which Fred had many fond memories.  In high school Fred had a strong interest in electronics and custom built and operated his own amateur radio station.  He was greatly indebted to professor Marburger his high school physics teacher for encouraging him to pursue university studies in physics.  He obtained a bachelor's degree in 1938 from Western Michigan University and master's degrees in physics and electrical engineering in 1940 from the University of Michigan.  He also held a professional engineers license from the State of New York.
   Fred began his career in 1940 with the duPont Company in Niagara Falls, NY. There he worked on instrumentation and process control for heavy chemical production in Niagara Falls. He also developed methods for locating hazardous ground faults on multi megawatt electrolytic cell banks; for measuring dangerous levels of chlorinated hydrocarbon vapor in work areas; and for the production of high-K dielectric capacitors for the Air Force. While at duPont in 1943 he met Irene Voutsas, a Barnard College chemistry graduate and new employee at duPont. She captured his heart and within two weeks he proposed. They were married in May 1944 and soon relocated to Richland, Washington where they both took part in the Manhattan District Project (atomic bomb project).
   After World War II, Fred joined the GE Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Schenectady, New York where he conducted experimental physics research on sodium cooled power reactors. There he contributed to the development of advanced types of reactor core critical assemblies, highly reliable neutron detectors, and safe reactor operating procedures. He was the lead engineer for the development of the SIR Proof Test Reactor and for proving the safety of full power operation of the land based Seawolf Reactor Mark I and later for the SSN Seawolf Mark II. Later he developed critical assemblies and in-core instrument systems for the water cooled reactors for the USS Bainbridge. He also served as lead engineer for design and construction of a high pressure tiltable test rig for Bainbridge type fuel cells which pioneered the fabrication of full scale Inconel piping for naval reactors. While at KAPL on April 10, 1956, Fred obtained a patent on an apparatus for handling contaminated gloves.
   In 1963 he accepted an assignment with the International Atomic Energy Agency as a reactor research adviser to the Greek Atomic Energy Commission at the Democritos Nuclear Center in Athens. There he supervised the design and construction of a reactor coolant delay tank which allowed the Democritos reactor to achieve its full rated power. He also gave a series of lectures on experimental reactor operation and reactor safety.
 In 1965 he returned to the GE Research and Development Center to work in their environmental program. There he developed the airborne people sniffer for military use in the Vietnam war, an oxygen rebreathing system for Air Force fighter planes, and a completely automated waste water treatment system for a commercial research facility.
  He left the GE Company in 1967 to participate in the start-up of the Environment-One Corp. where he developed and patented the first commercial non-electrostatic room air cleaner and handled the sales and application engineering for the Antipol industrial air scrubber for air pollution abatement. He joined the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in 1975 to oversee the EPA Section 208 program for the State's Niagara Frontier. and later for the Capital District 9-county area. Then for several years he served as the supervisor for the Capital District Solid Waste Control program and worked on revision of the ground water standards for the State.
   In 1979 he moved to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia to work at the University of Petroleum and Minerals Research Institute. There he prepared the basic regulation for the Kingdom's environmental law and later served as manager for the Institute's technical publications department until his retirement in 1988.  He received an award of distinction for his service.  While there he served as an intermediary between a colleague and friend at the Institute and his wife Kristine Uhlman who sought custody of her children following separation from her husband.  Kristine fondly remembers Fred's effort in a recent email.
   Throughout his later years, Fred took a strong interest in his son's development of subquantum kinetics, a new systems approach to physics and cosmology that today has attracted a wide following. The two would have long discussions exploring the ramifications of this new approach to understanding the physical world.  Fred also spent many long hours writing coments on scientific paper drafts his son was preparing for publication, editing his son's many books and papers, and closely followed his son's research at the Starburst Foundation. Among his other interests, Fred also spent time compiling a family tree and family history, and organizing old photos.
 Awards: He received a citation from duPont for the outstanding work he did there in the early 40's.  He received a citation in 1945 from the Dept. of Defense for his work on the atomic bomb project.  In 1955 he received a bronze medal from the US Navy for outstanding service for the USS Seawolf. Western Michigan University honored him in 1976 with a distinguished alumni award.  He also received a gold banded plaque from the Saudi Arabian University of Petroleum & Minerals for outstanding service.
 Societies: Fred was a member of the Electro Chemical Society, the American Physical Society, and the American Nuclear Society.
   Fred is survived by Irene Voutsas LaViolette, 88, his lovely wife of 65 years, their son Paul, daughter Mary, son-in-law Soran Ange of Annandale, VA, grandson Captain Anthony Nicolopoulos and grand daughter-in-law Johanna Garcia-Rudi of Madrid, Spain.  Memorial contributions may be made to the Starburst Foundation,

Illustrated discourse by Fred describing his work at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (1946 - 1963):  download here

Historical account of the life of Fred's father Julien and his early family history.

Story about Fred's father's traveling theater show.

Paper Fred wrote in high school about a ball lightening death during his father's traveling theater show.

Story about the fortune teller who foretold Fred's future.

The knot that won't come untied.

The Face on the Bar Room Floor -- recitation by Fred LaViolette.


Photo gallery of Fred LaViolette's life.

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