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Dr Warren Harold Burgus

Burlington, Des Moines County, Iowa, USA
Death 10 Oct 2004 (aged 84)
Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 101028897 · View Source
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The Hawk Eye, October 28, 2004; Burlington, Des Moines County, Iowa

Warren Burgus, 89 (sic: 84, see correction below), of Portland, Oregon, died Monday, October 11, 2004, in Portland.

Born October 28, 1919, in Burlington, he was the son of Harry and Agnes Heffner Burgus. He married Mary Huston in Los Alamos (New Mexico).

Mr. Burgus was a pioneer of the nuclear age. He obtained a B. S. in chemistry from the University of Iowa in 1941 and was attending graduate school at the University of Colorado in 1942 when he began working at the University of Chicago. In Chicago, he joined the Manhattan Project, working for physicist Enrico Fermi, and was in the chemistry lab when the first sustained controlled nuclear reactor "went critical" under Stagg Stadium.

He worked at the Oak Ridge, Tennessee, nuclear labs from 1943 through 1946, extracting plutonium as part of a pilot program for the Hanford, Washington, bomb production facility. After the war, he earned a Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis in 1948, the same year he began working at Los Alamos Scientific Lab in New Mexico as a member of the bomb testing group. His team identified atmospheric fission debris from a Russian nuclear bomb in 1949, years ahead of estimated Russian ability to create such a weapon. As a result of that discovery, the national effort then focused on development of the H-bomb. He was one of the observers of the first H-bomb test, which wiped Eniwetok Atoll off the map in November 1952.

By 1954, he accepted a position at the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho. He was head of chemistry at the Materials Testing Reactor and was involved in the production of Protactinium-233. As a result of his work on that energy research project, he presented papers to international scientific organizations in Oxford, England, and Paris, France, during the early 1960s. From 1966 until his retirement in 1982, he was part of an effort to understand and control the behavior of fission products in power reactor accidents and in determining the environmental effects of the nuclear industry both at the Idaho labs and at the Hanford site.

He enjoyed traveling all over the world. He was an avid fly fisherman and lover of gourmet food.

Survivors include his wife; two daughters, Peggy Burgus and Harriett Turley; three grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; and one sister, Velma Burgus of Monmouth, Illinois.

Obituary correction

Warren Burgus of Portland, Oregon, who died Monday, October 11, 2004, in Portland, was 84. His age was incorrect in Thursday's obituary.


The Oregonian, Wednesday, November 3, 2004; Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon:

Warren H. Burgus died October 11, 2004, at age 84.

Mr. Burgus was born October 28, 1919, in Burlington, Iowa. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa, a master's degree from the University of Colorado and a doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis. A nuclear chemist for 40 years, he worked at the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho before moving to Portland in 2000. In 1951, he married Mary A. Huston.

Survivors include his wife; daughters, Peggy Burgus and Harriett Turley; sister, Velma; three grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Arrangements by Emily's.

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  • Created by: DW Brumm
  • Added: 20 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 101028897
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Warren Harold Burgus (28 Oct 1919–10 Oct 2004), Find A Grave Memorial no. 101028897, ; Maintained by DW Brumm (contributor 47781608) Unknown.