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Knoxville engineer who worked on Manhattan Project dies at age 102

Samuel E. Beall, II was an engineer who graduated from the University of Tennessee and helped create the atomic bomb.
Credit: Knoxville News Sentinel Obituary

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — An Oak Ridge National Laboratory engineer who worked on the Manhattan Project has died.

Samuel E. Beall, II died April 8. He was 102 years old, according to the lab.

"ORNL was fortunate to have a leader like Sam Beall during its early days," said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia, who hosted Beall on a visit to the lab in 2019. "He was an inspiration on that last visit, asking sharp questions and showing great interest in our work. Today the Laboratory still follows the example of those like Sam who were motivated by their sense of mission and service to the nation."

Beall received his engineering degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He was sent to the University of Chicago to help work on the Manhattan Project for the building of the atomic bomb. He was eventually sent to ORNL. 

When John F. Kennedy came to Oak Ridge as a senator in 1959, Beall was among those who spoke to and briefed the future president. 

After World War II, Beall remained at ORNL as director of the reactor and Energy Divisions until his retirement in 1982. According to a spokesman with ORNL, Beall "was a postwar pioneer and advocate of nuclear generated electric power."

He was the last living person who worked on the Manhattan Project at both Chicago and Oak Ridge.

According to ORNL, Beall knew Nobel laureates Arthur Compton, Enrico Fermi and Eugene Wigner. He was friends with Alvin Weinberg, longtime former lab director. 

When Beall retired, he served on the boards of Ruby Tuesday, Inc., Custom Foods of America, Southeast Service Corp., Helen Ross McNabb Center, Pellissippi State College and the Shannondale Retirement Home and Office on Aging, according to his obituary in the News Sentinel. 

Beall's obituary states that he served as an elder and in other roles at Sequoyah Hills Presbyterian Church, a scoutmaster of Troop 6 and a squire on the old Knox County Court.

Beall played tennis until 95 and was an avid gardener until his final days. He was married to his wife, Mary Anne Adcock, for 71 years.  

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