Adolphus L. "Pete" Lotts
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Adolphus L. "Pete" Lotts

Knoxville - Adolphus L. (Pete) Lotts

A. L. (Pete) Lotts passed away on Nov. 19, 2020 at the age of 86 from Covid-19 effects. Born and raised on a farm in Buchanan, Virginia, he attended Virginia Tech from 1951-1957. He was a member of the Va. Tech Corps of Cadets and the Corps Regimental Band and earned B.S and M.S. degrees in Metallurgical Eng. He was an active alumnus of Va. Tech and a proud Hokie for his entire life. Upon graduation he was commissioned as Second Lt. in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Pete joined the ORNL Metals & Ceramics Division in 1959. From 1963-64 he led the team that fabricated the first set of HFIR plutonium target rods. He managed the design and construction of a major ORNL hot cell facility, Building 7930, which is now used in support of radioisotope power systems for NASA. In 1976, he received the prestigious E.O. Lawrence Award from DOE. He subsequently directed the Oak Ridge AVLIS Program and the ORNL Nuclear Regulatory Commission Programs. After the HFIR Reactor was shut down in 1986 he was named HFIR Division Director and led the efforts to strengthen operational rigor and obtain authorization for a HFIR restart. He retired from ORNL a few months before HFIR successfully restarted and reached full power in 1990.

Pete also served from 1968 to 1986 as Chairman of the Knox County Board of Education. He was passionate about upgrading the quality of school curricula in general, and of math and science education in particular. He managed the successful desegregation of Knox County schools and directed the construction of many new school buildings, including Farragut High School. The A.L. Lotts Elementary School in West Knoxville is named in his honor.

Most memorably, Pete was a compassionate brother, father, mentor and leader who championed the underdog and was quick to exhort others and pray with those in need. He was a true community patriarch who encouraged everyone to set a course that was lofty and exhilarating; and when we lost that course and sought direction, he was our magnetic north. He was a prayerful member of Daystar Church and earlier an Elder of Erin Presbyterian and of Evangelical Church of Grace.

Pete Lotts is survived by sisters and brothers: Julia (Judy) Cash, Yvonne Reed, Edith Petty, Roger Lotts and Joseph Lotts. and by daughters: Deborah Korlin and husband Michael Korlin, Tricia Michaels and husband Gordon Michaels, Michelle Jester, and Marcee Merritt and husband Michael Merritt. Also by grandchildren and families: Jessea and Ben Tolar and children Evee, Ephrym and Gideon, Alexandra and Matthew Rodgers and children Isaac and Noah, Greg and Holly Korlin, David Korlin, Amber and Corey Brown and children Aubrea Grace, Avery, and Mason; Chelsea and Eddy Rathke and child Frederick; Rachel and Korey Ely and child Palmer, Daniel Jester and children Jack, Lucas and Sophia, Bryan Jester, Nicholas and Tierianna Jester, Lydiah Merritt and Natalia Merritt.

He joins his beloved wife, Grace Frances Lotts, who preceded him in death.

A private memorial service is planned for immediate family.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith…" HEBREWS 12:1,2

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Knoxville News Sentinel from Nov. 21 to Nov. 22, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
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Guest Book sponsored by Click Funeral Home Farragut Chapel
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2 entries
November 24, 2020
During my decades at ORNL, I had Pete as my boss 3 different times. He was the best boss I ever had. He provided guidance and support, was always honest and caring and trustworthy; he was just exemplary! When I was somebody's supervisor, my goal was to try to be as good for them as Pete always was for me. The world is a poorer place without him.
Bill Craddick
November 21, 2020
As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.
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