Carroll W. Zabel

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By The Staff

Zabel – Carroll W. Zabel, 87, died at his home in Boulder, Colo., Friday, April 18, 2008. He was born in Deer Creek, Minn., the son of Edward Zabel and Ethel Field Zabel. Carroll attended Lawrence College in Appleton, Wis., where he met Grace Elizabeth Kamerling, whom he married in1943. Carroll earned a Ph.D. in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During World War II, he worked at the MIT Radiation Laboratory, where he and his colleagues made fundamental contributions to the design and deployment of microwave radar systems. After the war, he was recruited by Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico, where he was involved in nuclear reactor research, in administration, and in consulting from 1949-1964.

He and his family enjoyed skiing, hiking, and other outdoor activities in the mountains of northern New Mexico and Colorado. He traveled widely with his family in this country—and in Europe, New Zealand and Australia for consulting on matters of nuclear energy.

In 1964, Carroll accepted a professorship of physics at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas, where he also served as director of research and associate dean of the graduate school. From 1965-1969, Carroll served on the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (predecessor to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission), which was charged with reviewing and approving all nuclear reactors in this country. He assumed the chairmanship of the committee in 1968.

Known for his generosity, humor and love of argument, Carroll also had a passion for tinkering with computers and machinery. While working in Texas, Carroll and his family spent summers at their cabin near Crested Butte, Colo. He retired to Boulder, Colo., where he and his wife have lived since 1984.

Carroll is survived by his wife of 65 years, Grace, by three children and their partners: Ellen Seale Durst and Peter Durst of Denver, Colo.; Barbara Zabel and Tom Couser of Quaker Hill, Conn.; and Garry and Thelma Zabel of Glenwood Springs, Colo.; by four grandchildren, Jennifer Bajaj and her husband Lalit of Denver, Geoffrey Seale and his wife Anda of Denver, Amber French and her husband Ryan, of Seattle, and Andrew Zabel of Seattle; and by four great-grandchildren, Jai and Alex Bajaj, and Nathaniel and Sandis Seale, of Denver.

The family is planning a celebration of Carroll’s life at a later date.