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William Aaron Beyer passed away in Los Alamos, NM, on August 16, 2008, with his wife of nearly 53 years and son by his side. He was born in Altoona, PA, on November 9, 1924, the son of Francis David Beyer and Frances Murdock Beyer. Bill grew up in Tyrone, PA, and entered the Army Air Corp. during WWII and subsequently graduated from OCS at Fort Benning, GA as a 2nd Lieutenant.
He received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in physics from Pennsylvania State College and University of Illinois respectively, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the Pennsylvania State University. Before coming to Los Alamos, he worked for General Electric Jet Engine Division in Cincinnati, OH. He was in the Theoretical Division of the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1959 until 1990. Bill continued to work for the Laboratory after his retirement for many more years.
The Rover Project, Mathematical Biology (evolution, population dynamics), Strategic Defense Initiative (discrimination), mathematical support for a nuclear weapons test, scientific intelligence support, UNM graduate class instruction, non-Euclidean geometry, random number generators, complexity, early fractal mathematics, and energy economics were just some of the wide ranging fields in which Bill made contributions.
Being politically and socially conscious, Bill worked on a fair housing ordinance for Los Alamos, helped plan and construct Los Alamos’s first group home for the mentally challenged, was active in the Democratic Party, was a strong advocate of the elimination of nuclear weapons, and, decades before they became popular, was an outspoken supporter for world-wide human rights, minority rights in the United States, and keeping the environment clean.
Bill was preceeded in death by his parents and daughter Elizabeth. Survivors include his wife, Ann of Los Alamos; his son, Tom, also of Los Alamos; Bill’s sister, Margaret Beyer of Naples, FL; his brother, Dr. F.D. “Barney” Beyer and wife, Patricia of Greensburg, PA; his son-in-law, Lee Bartlett of Las Cruces, NM; his nephews, Dr. David Beyer, wife Nancy, and daughter Madeleine of Ligonier, PA, Robert Beyer, wife Janet, and children, Christopher and Kathryn of Naperville, IL, and William Bershinger of Green Bay, WI; and his granddaughters, Jennifer Barlett, husband James Stewart and son, Jeffrey of Brooklyn, NY, and Marisa Kelly, husband Danny, and son Alexander, of Vacaville, CA.
A memorial service will be held on Monday, September 15, 2008, at 11 a.m. at the Unitarian Church, 1738 N. Sage in Los Alamos. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Arms Control Association, 1313 L St., NW, Suite 130, Washington, DC 2005, Los Alamos Visiting Nurses Services, 116 Central Park Square, Los Alamos, NM 87544, or Sombrillo Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 1011 Sombrillo Court, Los Alamos, NM 87544.
A few minutes after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Bill responded “I am almost 80 years old, I’ve had a pretty good life and so, I have won.”