William Blanpied
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Obituary of William A Blanpied


William A. Blanpied

A high-energy physicist, historian, champion of science and public policy, and a loving father and grandfather, died on April 2, 2019, at his home in Pittsboro, NC. He was 85.

He is survived by three children, Eric, Wendy, and Jessica; five grandchildren, Miles, Priya, Gus, Lola, Vera; his sister Mary Jane, and brother John.

Brought up in Denver, Colorado, he received a BS from Yale in 1951 and a PhD from Princeton in Applied Science in 1959. He taught physics at Yale and as a full professor at Case Western Reserve. He published two physics text books. He also worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Cambridge Electron Accelerator at Harvard, the Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the National Synchrotron Laboratory in Frascati, Italy.

In the 1970s, he began a government career with the National Science Foundation (NSF) focused on international collaborations, developing liaisons with national scientific unions, particularly in Asian countries. Early in his career, he made several trips to India, twice as an NSF consultant at the University of Saugar, and later with his family, including son Eric, in New Delhi as the physics expert with the NSF scientific liaison staff. From 1997 to 2002 he twice served as Director of NSF Tokyo Regional Office in the American Embassy. He taught at the University of Tsinghua in Beijing, and was a consultant in Japan and China. He traveled extensively for pleasure, always to places of particular historic and cultural interest. He continued to read and write articles on the history of science, and read avidly in history and biography.

He is remembered fondly by family, friends, and the assisted living staff at The Arbor in Galloway Ridge, Pittsboro, as brilliant, dryly funny, sly, ornery, and always richly himself. His apartment was a gallery of his travels and of his family, in which he took great pride. He is also survived by his cat, Oscar, his companion of 16 years.

Arrangements for a memorial service will be made later. Donations in his name may be made to Save the Children or NAACP.


Published in The Washington Post on Apr. 20, 2019

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