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James M. Dunford

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James M. DUNFORD Captain James M. Dunford USN (Ret.), one of the last surviving pioneers of the Naval Nuclear Power Program died Tuesday of complications from pneumonia. He was 95 years old. Captain Dunford was one of five officers sent to Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1946 to learn about nuclear power and how the Navy might use it for ship propulsion. The senior member of that group was Captain H. G. Rickover. After sixteen intense months of study in Oak Ridge, Captain Dunford was assigned to the newly formed Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in Washington, DC. In 1949, the AEC formed a Naval Nuclear Power Branch with the original Oak Ridge team. Led by Rickover, this group developed the first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus. Captain Dunford attained the rank of Captain and served as Admiral Rickover's Deputy with the responsibility for selecting and training officers and crew for the rapidly expanding nuclear submarine force. Upon retirement from active duty in 1961 he served as Vice-President, Naval Nuclear for New York Shipbuilding Corporation in Camden, NJ, overseeing construction of three nuclear submarines and one surface nuclear powered cruiser over four years. Subsequent roles included Visiting Professor in the engineering faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, and civilian Technical Director of the US Naval Air Engineering Center in the Philadelphia Naval Base and finally, Executive VP of CDI Marine Company, a naval architecture and marine engineering firm. In 1980, Captain Dunford retired to a life of consulting in the civilian nuclear power field until final retirement in 1990. Born in Seattle, Washington on October 13, 1915, Dunford was the son of John Adams Dunford, Chief Bridge Engineer for the city of Seattle. He graduated from Broadway High School as valedictorian and went on to the University of Washington in Seattle where he studied electrical engineering for three years. He received a congressional appointment and entered the U.S. Naval Academy in the summer of 1935. In 1941, he married Virginia MacEachern of Forest Hills, NY. He is survived by his eight children: John A. Dunford of Mason, Oh, Anne M. Dunford of Jacksonville Beach, Fl, Robert W. Dunford of Naperville, Il, Phyllis D. Peterson of Charlotte, NC, James M. Dunford, Jr. of Los Altos, CA, Margaret M. Dunford of Belmont, NC, Louise D. Brodnitz of Washington, DC, and Thomas G. Dunford of Bothell, WA, fourteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. After a requiem Mass at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, January 25th at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Atlantic Beach, Florida, his body will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on a date to be determined. The family will receive friends Monday for a visitation from 4 p.m. until 6:45 p.m., with a vigil service to follow at 7 p.m., at HARDAGE-GIDDENS FUNERAL HOME, 1701 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
Published in The Seattle Times on Jan. 22, 2011
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