Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 20
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  • LAWRENCE T. PAPAY 1936–2014


    LAWRENCE T. PAPAY, pioneer and outstanding industry executive and leader in the research, development, and commercialization of electric power generation technologies, died on July 28, 2014, after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 77. Larry was born in Weehawken, New Jersey, on October 3, 1936, the youngest of four sons, to Joe and Elizabeth Papay.

    He was raised in Montvale, NJ, in the house his father built when he was a boy. Larry excelled as a student and athlete in high school and went on to receive a BS in physics from Fordham University in New York City.

    After graduation in 1958 he attended Officer Candidate School and served four years as a naval officer teaching in the Nuclear Power School at Mare Island Naval Shipyard. At the christening of a nuclear sub­ marine in 1959, Larry met his wife Carol on a blind date. They were married in Carol’s home state of Ohio on New Year’s Eve in 1960 and resided in Vallejo, California, until Larry began graduate school.

    In 1963 Larry and Carol, with daughter Lisa and son Greg born in 1961 and 1963, respectively, returned to the East Coast, this time to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Larry worked toward an MS (1965) and ScD (1968) in nuclear engineering from MIT.

    Daughter Diane joined the family in 1965 and, upon completion of his doctoral studies, Larry took the family to begin a prestigious Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) postdoctoral fellowship at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Centro Comune di Ricerca Euratom, in Ispra, Italy. Larry and the family returned to Italy many times throughout the rest of his life.

    After completing his AEC fellowship, Larry returned to California to begin his remarkable 21 year career at Southern California Edison Company (SCE) where he ascended to leader­ship posts in research and development, engineering, power transmission distribution operations, power generation, nuclear power, system planning, and ultimately senior vice president. He was an industry leader and pioneer in SCE efforts in the 1970s and 1980s to commercialize new electric power–generating technologies, including renewables, coal gasification, geothermal energy, cogeneration,­ and many others, literally beginning a transformation of the electric utility business in the process—a transformation that continues apace today.

    Larry’s pivotal role in this transformation led to his election to the NAE and to involvement in many national policy committees and other activities that shaped the future of the utility industry. In 1991 Larry joined Bechtel Corporation where he became a partner and the senior vice president and general manager of Bechtel Technology and Consulting, where he was responsible for monitoring emerging technologies and developing new businesses, principally in the energy sector, employing those technologies, including technological developments that impacted existing business lines as well as the rapidly growing engineering and construction businesses at Bechtel.

    From 2000 to 2004 Larry served as sector vice president for the Integrated Solutions Sector, SAIC, where he was responsible for business involving the integration of technology in the energy, environment, and information areas for a variety of governmental and commercial clients worldwide. From 2004 to his death in 2014, Larry finished his working career as CEO and principal of PQR, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in managerial, financial, and technical strategies for a variety of clients in electric power and other energy areas.

    Larry’s wide-ranging expertise placed him in high demand for professional societies, boards of directors, and other activities including service as general chair of American Nuclear Society meetings and National Science Foundation panels, and chair of the California Council on Science and Technology and of the SLAC Policy Committee.

    He was also active in the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies, the Atomic Industrial Forum as a member of the board of directors, the California Business Roundtable, the California Power Pool as chairman of the executive committee, the US Department of Energy’s Energy Research Advisory Board, Secretary of Energy’s Laboratory Operations Board, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as a member of the board of directors, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment Solar Advisory Panel, and numerous others.

    Larry’s service to the NAE, including as a member of the NAE Governing Council, and to the National Research Council (NRC) spanned 28 years. He chaired major Academy studies such as the 2006 Committee on Alternatives to Indian Point for Meeting Energy Needs and the 2009 Committee on America’s Energy Future Panel on Electricity from Renewables.

    He served on many study committees such as those addressing US-China Cooperation on Electricity from Renewables (he chaired the US committee), Panel on Energy Facilities, Cities and Fixed Infrastructure, the major study on Science and Technology for Countering Terrorism, an Assessment of Resource Needs for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies, and the Committee on the Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems.

    He served on numerous NRC oversight committees as well, such as the Board on Energy and Environmental Systems, the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, the Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems, and the Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences. Finally he served on important organizing and selection committees, such as the Organizing Committee for the National Academies Summit on America’s Energy Future and the selection committee for the NAE Charles Stark Draper Prize.

    Larry’s service was so highly sought not only because of his expertise and experience but also because of the generous spirit and gracious manner he brought to all his activities. In 2008 Fordham University established the Papay Science Award to honor the spirit he brought to the science and engineering enterprise. Larry was also a generous volunteer in the California communities where he and his family lived. Some of his favorite experiences included coaching Little League, fundraising for school and civic causes, and serving as an Arcadia Planning Commissioner. Leisure activities he most enjoyed were reading, listening to music, and wine collecting as well as biking, skiing, and traveling with family and friends.

    Larry is survived by his wife Carol; children Lisa, Greg, and Diane; and five grandchildren, as well as his brothers Joe, Gene, and Ray.

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