Maurice Rattray Jr.
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Maurice Rattray, Jr.

Sept. 16, 1922 ~ Nov. 26, 2012

Resident of Concord, CA

Maurice Rattray, Jr. sailed his last voyage Nov. 26, 2012.

He moved from Seattle, WA to the S.F. Bay area in May 2012 to be nearer his children and grandchildren who gathered around him during his final days.

Born in Seattle, he attended Caltech and went on to serve in the Navy from 1943-46. He supervised the radar installation on the new heavy cruiser 'Helena (CA75)' before sailing around the world on her as a commissioned Radar officer. After leaving active duty, he returned to Caltech, receiving his Ph.D. in 1951 in Physics and Mathematics. He then joined the Oceanographic faculty at the University of Washington and retired as Professor Emeritus in 1985, having served two terms as Chairman of the Dept from 1968-1978. Maurice had an international reputation for his research on estuarine dynamics and was co-developer of the most widely used classification system for estuarine dynamics: the Hansen-Rattray Stratification-Circulation Diagram. His research included physical model studies on Puget Sound, salt intrusion studies in the Lake Washington Ship Canal, and detailed current studies in Puget Sound and East Sound, along with more than 70 publications.

He also served on a number of national committees: National Science Foundation Advisory Panel on Earth Sciences/Oceanography, US Navy Oceanographic Office consultant, US Coast Guard Science Advisory Committee, National Academy of Sciences Ocean Sciences Committee; EPA Environmental Pollutant and Transformation Advisory Committee. Between 1955 and 1967 he held a variety of offices including President in the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography. He spent 1966-67 as the Rossby Fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and he was a member of the JOIDES (Deep Sea Drilling) Executive Committee and its Chairman in 1976-78.

Maurice's passion (shared with wife Mary) was sailing - both racing and cruising. He was a member of the Cruising Club of America, a Life member of the Seattle Yacht Club and Commodore of the Corinthian Yacht Club in Seattle. He competed in Dragon and Soling class World Championships in Norway, Italy, Canada and across the US. After many summers of cruising in Puget Sound and winters in the Caribbean, he and Mary made a trans-Atlantic crossing in their 42' sloop Freia in 1991 and then cruised for 10 years around the Mediterranean.

Maurice and Mary both loved music, especially the opera (one sailboat was named Turandot). They enjoyed season passes to the Seattle Opera and Symphony for many years.

Survivors include Mary, his wife (and first mate!) of 61 years, daughter Julia (Steven) Wyrick, sons Maurice, III (Karin) and Gordon Rattray, grandchildren Athena and Alex Carapanos and Greg and Devin Rattray, sister Phyllis Daleske, and many other extended family members.

A celebration of Maurice's full and active life will be held by his family following the scattering of his ashes from a sailboat on San Francisco Bay.

Remembrances may be made to the charitable organization of your choice.

Sign Mourice's online guestbook at

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Seattle Times on Dec. 9, 2012.
Memories & Condolences
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19 entries
December 22, 2012
In my first quarter of graduate school in 1958 I took Prof. Rattray's “make or break” course in Marine Hydrodynamics. In short order I was disabused of how easy it might be to earn a PhD in oceanography. At the same time, his way of making mathematics both understandable and useful for understanding the physical world convinced me that I was on the right track. He was demanding of his students but, in my experience, always encouraging and constructive when needed, and cautioned against irrational exuberance as appropriate. I remember a sense of real elation when I at last grew able to engage him in discussion more or less as a peer in at least one area. I fondly remember my partnership with him in developing the theory of circulation in estuaries that after nearly 50 years remains the work for which he like myself probably is most widely known. I thought that he had the best job in the world. He probably agreed. I had little direct interaction with him in subsequent years as the career that he enabled took a young man from Whidbey to distant waters and their problems, but I have been able follow many of his achievements from a distance. Maury Rattray enjoyed a long, rich, and fruitful life. Do not despond.
Donald Hansen
December 14, 2012
Dear Rattray Family:
From our family to yours, condolences on the loss of a great man. Our hearts will be with you in this time of sorrow. Pirkko and Hanna Welander
Hanna Welander
December 14, 2012
Dear Mary,
Lynne and I are saddened at the loss of our old friend Maury.
We want to thank you and Maurice for all the wonderful sailing adventures and friendship through out the years.
Maury was my yacht racing mentor. I crewed Maury on the Soling,later joining you and Maury on the Atlantic crossing in 1991.
Ten years later you invited Lynne and I to sail another crossing from Portugal to the Canary Islands.
I'm glad we had our visit in November before his passing.
We give our condolences to you and your family.
Stephen and Lynne McManus Seattle
December 14, 2012
Dear Mary,

So sorry to hear about this sad news. I know the few years have been challenging. You are in my thoughts. Fair winds and following seas, Maury.
Ted Barss
December 12, 2012
Dear Mary,

Just a note to say how grateful I am to Maury, first as my advisor and mentor, and then as a colleague over many years. He set a high professional standard that served his students well. His thoughtful insights were always welcome as was his sense of responsibility, including helping UW Oceanography as Chairman and recruiting excellent faculty. As a fellow sailor, I appreciate the many ways in which Maury enthusiastically enjoyed other pursuits outside of work. I grew up on the shores of San Francisco Bay and can understand what a fitting place it is for his ashes, especially near family. Maury certainly had a rich and fruitful life.

Take care,
Hal Mofjeld
December 11, 2012
Dear Mary. Kathy and I were sorry to learn of Maury's passing, and you are in our thoughts and prayers. I first met him when I came to the UW as Manager of Marine Operations in 1998. I enjoyed seeing him at faculty meetings, and at the Seattle Yacht Club. Maurice sponsored me for membership in the Cruising Club of America, and we enjoyed seeing both of you at the meetings and dinners. Yesterday (Monday, 10 December), Maurice was honored and remembered at the CCA luncheon, and several friends and members stood up to recount their sailing and cruising experiences with you. We'll always feel privileged to have known and been friends with this remarkable man. Capt. Daniel Schwartz
Daniel Schwartz
December 11, 2012
MR encouraged me to come to UW Seattle when I seriously needed a good job, and paved the way. He believed in the role of theory in ocean dynamics and pursued it hard. His students have made their career-long marks, which is the highest measure of a university prof. and one to judge us all by. His interest in the School of Oceanography, its past and future continued well into retirement. The School rose to international prominence as a result of this kind of scholarship and mentorship. Happy sailing, fair winds Maury! Peter Rhines
December 11, 2012
Dear Mary

I just learned of Maury's passing. In case you do not remember me, I was Maury'd associate chairman in Oceanography. He was a good friend and will be missed.

My sincere condolences,

George Anderson
December 11, 2012
Dear Mrs. Rattray,

I was Prof. Rattray's doctoral student during 1975-82. I learnt a lot from him. His seminar course in Fall 1977 was a learning experince I very much cherish.

My sympathies on your loss.
Satish Shetye
December 10, 2012
Our thoughts are with you all during this difficult time. Please take care.

The Bush Family
December 10, 2012
I'll miss his recountings of marvelous siling voyages. My condlences to the family.

Darrell Scattergood -- Physics retired
December 10, 2012
Maury & Mary Rattray before kids!
Julie Rattray Wyrick
December 10, 2012
Dad sailing Sr. Blanchard Knockabout
Julie Rattray Wyrick
December 10, 2012
Maurice and Mary Rattray, Barcelona
Julia Rattray Wyrick
December 10, 2012
Dear Mary, I remember sailing with you and Maury vividly. You both shared smarts and energy with a green kid - thank you.
Craig Thomas
December 9, 2012
Dear Mary, I was saddened to learn of Maury's passing. He, along with Larry Larsen, brought me to Seattle as a new oceanography graduate to join the faculty at UW in 1969. He became friends with all of us as well as colleagues. Many nice things ensued both in my career and life due to this initial event, for which I am most grateful. I also remember attending Julie's wedding, and the picture in a national paper of his sailboat sinking in San Francisco during a race. This Thursday is the oceanography Christmas party, and we will toast his memory. Carole and I hope we get to see you again in Seattle. Sincerely, Glenn Cannon
Glenn Cannon
December 9, 2012
I took Maury's Ocean Dynamics class as a second-year grad student at the UW in 1983. That class was one of the most difficult things any of us had ever done, and he was very demanding of the four of us in that class (no hiding in the back of the room). He knew exactly how much we were learning, and he pushed us hard. But having got through it, he let us feel that we had advanced in his eyes to a new level of seriousness, a real validation. Much later, when I was a professor myself, I would see him at department seminars in the 2000s and finally learned to call him "Maury", which I certainly never did in 1983.
Billy Kessler
December 9, 2012
Dear Mary,
As a former graduate student in the Department of Oceanography, I remember with gratitude Dr. Rattray's personal kindness to me and his support for my graduate research.

I was saddened to learn this morning of his passing. Please accept my condolences to you and your family.
Gary Raymond
December 8, 2012

I knew your dad quite well from his days as a Thistle sailor. He had some great insights into how and where to make a boat go to win a race.

I am the CYC Necrologist. We will speak of your dad at the Christmas lunch in Seattle on Monday, 17 Dec. If you happen to be in town, you are welcome to attend.

In the way of small world, I knew a fellow Navy officer, David Wyrick, KIA as commanding officer of a gunboat in Viet Nam. His widow is Tina. Are you related?

Martin A. Seelig,
CYC, Staff Commodore
Martin Seelig
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