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Richard Adams

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Richard Adams Obituary
Richard O. Adams of Boulder died December 5, 2013 at Tru Hospice Care Center in Louisville. Richard was born March 5, 1933 in Garden Home, OR, to Ted and Geneva Adams. He was raised in Stayton, Portland, and Salem, OR. He graduated in 1955 from Willamette University in Salem, OR, with a degree in Physics and a second lieutenant commission from the Air Force ROTC. After college he served as a communications officer in the aircraft early warning section of the U.S. Air Force, assigned to a radar installation on Okushiri Island off the west coast of Japan. When his service ended he enrolled at Washington State University, earning a Ph.D. in physics in 1963. He began work at the Dow Chemical company Rocky Flats Plant in November 1963. While working for Dow, he conducted research on oxidation, corrosion, and radiation effects on materials, and managed a research group. After Rockwell International took over Rocky Flats, Richard was promoted to Associate Scientist, one of six at the site. He then focused his research on thin-film coating technology using vapor deposition in a vacuum environment. He developed a process for depositing a protective layer of titanium in the exterior casing of the plutonium "pits" fabricated at Rocky Flats. He retired from Rocky Flats in 1989 and joined the Failure Analysis Laboratory at StorageTek. In this lab Richard was both an analyst, studying photo electric power generation interference by exotic trace materials, and also a manager. StorageTek closed the lab in 1999. In the ensuing years he held temporary research positions with NIST and NREL, contracted with Los Alamos National Laboratory to write a complete history of the titanium coating process he developed at Rocky Flats and most recently worked on DOE document declassification projects for the company PMTech. Richard married Catherine A. Harmon in Denver in 1964. They have resided in Boulder since 1965. He was a devoted, kind and loving husband, father and grandfather. He especially enjoyed his family, hiking, photography, music, and supporting the various pursuits of his children. He had a lifelong interest in railroad history, and in retirement was an enthusiastic volunteer at the Colorado Railroad Museum. Richard is survived by his wife, Catherine; daughter Susan Threinen (Steve); son Mark (Michelle Steen-Adams); grandchildren Ingrid and Søren Steen-Adams; step-grandchildren Peyton, Camryn and Zachary Threinen; and sisters Alice Schmidt and Janice Frerk. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate contributions to: University of Colorado Hospital's Lung Cancer Colorado Fund, in Memory of Richard O. Adams, 2410 E. 17th Ave, Mail Stop F485, Aurora, CO 80045, TruCommunityCare in Lafayette, or St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Boulder. Services will be held at St. Paul's UMC in January.

Published in The Daily Camera on Dec. 15, 2013
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