|Birth: ||Dec. 16, 1924|
South Carolina, USA
|Death: ||Nov. 26, 2011|
Rathuel L. McCollum was a pioneering nuclear physicist turned lawyer.
After several years of illnesses, McCollum died Nov. 26 at Kindred Hospital at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center. He was 86.
"Mac was our go-to guy for everything" said Julian Earls, a protege who rose to lead what's now NASA Glenn Research Center. People streamed into an office the two men shared for McCollum's advice on physics, law and the stock market.
He'd joined what was then Lewis Field in 1952 as one of a sprinkling of African-Americans there. He retired in 1975 and practiced law downtown, helping to merge and save credit unions and to revise relevant state laws. He also served on a national Baptist board and led several regional nonprofits.
McCollum was the 14th of 15 children in a family in Bennettsville, S.C. He became valedictorian of his high school and fought for the U.S. Army in the Pacific during World War II.
Discharged as a corporal, he earned a bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics from Morehouse College. He belonged to the Kappa Alpha Psi and Beta Kappa Chi fraternities there. He met his future wife, Doris LaRheine Thompson, at nearby Spelman College and became friends with Morehouse schoolmate Martin Luther King Jr.
McCollum and his wife took graduate courses at the University of Michigan. In 1952, he began nine years as a researcher at Lewis in radiation physics. He published and presented many findings.
He earned a degree at night at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and served as editor of its law review. At Lewis, he became an accountability officer for nuclear material, then a nuclear licensing coordinator. He helped get permits from the Atomic Energy Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency. He was also a NASA recruiter, speaker and equal opportunity officer. He eventually transferred to an operations planning office.
He retired in 1975 and joined a firm on Prospect Ave. that became Saunders, Hadley, Helm and McCollum. William Saunders was a former state representative and a distant relative of Doris McCollum.
McCollum lived in Mount Pleasant, then Lee-Harvard. He was president of Eliza Bryant Village and building chairman for its current home. He was vice president of the Central Area of American Baptist Men and a trustee both of American Baptist Churches and Northern Theological Seminary. He was a trustee of the Ohio Credit Union League.
Locally, he was treasurer of the local Morehouse alumni and of the Hough-Norwood Health Centers. At Antioch Baptist Church, he was lay president, credit union president, legal counsel, trustee and deacon. He served on many other local boards.
He won awards from Antioch, United Way and John F. Kennedy High School, his daughters' school. In 1979, the McCollums were named family of the year by the local Urban League.
Complete obituary published by the Plain Dealer: Friday, December 02, 2011, By Grant Segall
Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery
Created by: Catahoula Hound
Record added: Jan 15, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 103614727