LELAND L. BURGER (1917 - 2016)

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LELAND L. BURGER Einan's at Sunset Leland L. Burger died October 7, 2016, just short of his 99th birthday, surrounded by loved ones. He was born 5 November 1917 in Buffalo, Wyoming, to Leonard and Nellie Winingar Burger. He spent his early years hiking and camping in the Wyoming mountains or building radios or pursuing a multitude of other scientific hobbies. He earned a Bachelors degree from the University of Wyoming, where he was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity, and a Doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Washington. In January 1942 he moved to Columbia University to begin work on war research, an activity that soon expanded across the country, including Hanford, and became the "Manhattan Project". His research at Columbia was the development of the gaseous diffusion process for uranium isotope separation, for the plant to be constructed at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He met his future wife, Eleanor McMorris, in Seattle, where she was an art student at the University of Washington. In the spring of 1942, he asked her to join him in New York City where they were married April 11, 1942. A son, Harold, was born there in 1944. At the end of World War II, they returned to Seattle, and after two years at the University of Washington, Dr. Burger accepted a research position with GE at Hanford, WA, transferring to Battelle in 1965 when Battelle Memorial Institute took over management of the Hanford Laboratories. He remained at Battelle until his retirement in 1986, working in basic and applied research and as Section Manager, and Project Manager. After retiring, he continued to work part time for Battelle and do consulting work at Hanford, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the international nuclear energy labs in Europe. He held leadership roles in the International Atomic Energy Commission. He was active in several scientific and honorary societies, including Sigma Xi, Gamma Sigma Epsilon, American Nuclear Society, American Chemical Society, and was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. In addition to writing many scientific papers and book contributions, he reviewed papers for the chemical and nuclear societies and enjoyed their meetings and associated travel. He owned 7 scientific patents. In 1993 Lee was honored as distinguished alum for the University of Wyoming. He was named one of the 75 most influential people in the first 100 year history of the University. In 2007 he was awarded the prestigious Glenn T. Seaborg Award for Actinide Separations Science. Lee maintained a strong interest in education and when GE established the graduate studies program at Richland, he began teaching night classes and helped establish and manage the chemistry program that was jointly sponsored by four northwest universities. This became the Joint Center for Graduate Studies (JCGS), and eventually, WSU Tri-Cities. His position was WSU Adjunct Professor of Chemistry. He also spent the academic year 1969-70 in Corvallis, Oregon, as Adjunct Professor of Nuclear Engineering at Oregon State University. There Eleanor, a musician and artist, was able to continue her art studies. A daughter, Virginia, and son, James, were born in Richland. The family was very close and especially enjoyed camping, hiking, vacations at the ocean beaches, exploring the U.S. via country roads, or perhaps just listening to music. Lee was very fond of good music, both classical and jazz; and also supported the theater and the arts. He was a rock hound and loved geology, nature and working in his garden. In 2011 Lee moved to Seattle first to University House Wallingford, then to his daughter's home in Bellevue, where he enjoyed his final years with family. Eleanor passed away in December 1994. Lee and Eleanor are survived by their children, Harold (wife Dona) and Virginia (husband Dr. Robert E. Tracy), five grandsons, eight great granddaughters, one great grandson, two great great granddaughters and multiple cousins, nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by five brothers, two sisters and son James. Donations can be made to Humane Society of the United States and the St. Stephens Indian Mission Foundation, PO Box 278, St. Stephens, WY. 82524. There will be a celebration of Lee's life in Richland, WA, November 5, 2016 at 4:00pm at Shalom United Church of Christ, 505 McMurray; with reception following at Einan's Event Center, 915 ByPass Hwy, Richland; and in Seattle, WA, November 8, 2016, at 4:00-7:00pm, at the University of Washington Club (on campus, 4020 E. Stevens Way NE, across from the HUB). Express your thoughts and memories on our online Guestbook at www.einansatsunset.com
Published in Tri-City Herald on Oct. 30, 2016
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