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W. Kenneth Davis

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W. Kenneth Davis
W. Kenneth Davis died at home in San Rafael, California, passing away peacefully in his sleep during the early morning hours of July 29th, 2005. Born in Seattle, Washington on July 26th, 1918, he had just celebrated his 87th birthday.
Mr. Davis grew up in Berkeley, California, attending the University of California and then going on to MIT where he received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering in 1940 and 1942.
After finishing college, he went to work in Development and Process Design for what is now Chevron. Later he was an Associate Professor and then Professor of Engineering at UCLA while the Engineering College was being established. For many years subsequently, he was an Adjunct Professor of Engineering at UCLA and was twice Regent's Lecturer.
Prior to joining the Atomic Energy Commission in 1954, he served as Manager of Development and Engineering for a Standard Oil (Chevron) subsidiary carrying out a very large classified project, the MTA, for the Atomic Energy Commission which was the origin of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He served as Deputy Director of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in 1954, and then as Director of Reactor Development Division, 1955-58, which included the formation and first years of the Civilian Reactor Branch which were critical to the evolvement of the nuclear power industry.
From 1958 to 1981, Mr. Davis was a corporate (senior) vice president of Bechtel Corporation in San Francisco. He was instrumental in establishing Bechtel as the leading engineer- constructor in worldwide nuclear power, and he was also responsible for other energy related developments on a worldwide basis.
Mr. Davis returned to Washington, D.C. from 1981-1983 when he served as the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy.
He was a Past Chairman of the U.S. Committee for the World Energy Council (U.S. Energy Association) and was Chairman of the Programme Committee of the World Energy Council from 1986 to 1992. He was a Director of the Atlantic Council of the U.S. He also served as a consultant on management and engineering to several government and private organizations. He had been Professor of Chemical Engineering (Adjunct) at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Director for the Management Analysis Company.
He served as Chairman/President of the Atomic Industrial Forum, 1964-67, as President of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1981, and as Vice President of the National Academy of Engineering, 1978-81, is a Fellow and Former Director of the American Nuclear Society, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He was chairman of the NAE committee that produced "U.S. Energy Prospects" in 1974.
He was one of the group that organized the American Nuclear Society where he served as a Director and a Fellow. He was an Honorary Director of the Atlantic Council of the United States and a member of the Cosmos Club. He was the founding Chairman and Chairman- Emeritus of the World Efficiency Association. He was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a charter member of the British Nuclear Energy Society, and a member of the World Future Society and the World Nuclear Association.
Mr. Davis received the prestigious Henry DeWolf Smith Nuclear Statesman Award in 1993 that is given jointly by the American Nuclear Society and the Nuclear Energy Institute. Among other awards was the National Engineering Award from the American Association of Engineering Societies in 1982.
In addition, Mr. Davis served on a number of advisory boards to several Administrations and the Congress of the U.S., and presented some 200 papers at national and international meetings on energy, engineering, nuclear power, and related subjects. Up to his death, he remained active and in touch with former colleagues, while continuing to write papers on energy and nuclear power.
Until recent years, Mr. Davis was an enthusiastic skier and hiker, participating in two high treks in the Himalayas. And in his youth, he was an expert and courageous rock climber, ski racer and captain of the UC Berkeley ski team. A brilliant, kind and generous man, he was a patron of the arts and environmental causes. He especially enjoyed classical music and was well known in the Marin music circles because both his first and second wives were accomplished pianists. In addition to his love of music and the outdoors, he was extremely proud of his children and grandchildren and always had a twinkle in his eye and a chuckle in his voice when he spoke of them.
Mr. Davis was married for 57 years to the former Margaret Ellen Bean until her death in 1998. They had three children and five grandchildren. He is survived by his second wife, Ann Nilsson Davis of San Rafael, California, his daughter Kerry Davis of Kentfield, California, his son Warren Davis (Bonnie Nichols) of Lafayette, California, his daughter Gail Greene (Charles) of Novato, California, and five grandchildren: Lindsey Antin (Jesse) and Galen Davis, Robyn, Tyler and Jamie Greene. His younger brother Keith Davis of Grand Lake, Colorado also survives him.
A private memorial service will be held sometime in October. Donations may be made to: The Margaret and Kenneth Davis Scholarship Fund, Marin Music Chest, P.O. Box 468, Ross, CA 94957, (415) 388-0166; Stem Cell Research Foundation, Development Dept., 22512 Gateway Center Drive, Clarksburg, MD 20871, (877) 842-3442, http://www.stemcellresearchfoundation.org; Marin Agricultural Land Trust, P.O. Box 809, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956, (415) 663-1158, http://www.malt.org.
1022 "E" Street
San Rafael, CA 94901
Published in Marin Independent Journal on Aug. 14, 2005
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