Dr. James Oliver Porteus
Jim passed away September 29, 2013 in Ridgecrest Regional Hospital. He was 83. He was born
In Wilmington, Delaware and attended public schools in Hamilton, New Jersey, graduating from Hamilton High School. He received his BS degree from the University of Delaware with a major in Physics and a minor in Mathematics. He continued his education at Cornell University where he earned his PhD degree in Experimental Solid-state Physics in June 1958. His thesis topic was “X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy of the Alkali Halides”.
After a year as a Research Associate at Cornell he became an employee of the Research Department of the then Naval Ordnance Test Station at China Lake, California in September 1959. During his Cornell years he married Peggy Morley, a high school classmate.
His first assignment in China Lake was to develop a state-of-the-art Low-Energy Electron Diffractometer for studying the structure single-crystal solid surfaces. Meanwhile, he made contributions to the mathematical characterization of surface roughness. The results of these endeavors were several journal publications, two of which won the Sigma Xi award for best paper of the year. Later he turned his attention to the study of high-energy laser damage to optical surfaces, a critical problem in the “Star Wars Program”.
In the course of contributing to the development of laser optical components he developed a method of relating small-scale laser test results to those using large-scale lasers. He also developed a successful thermal model for laser damage, which won him a Technical Directors’ award.
Jim retired in December 1991 and enjoyed most of his retirement years in recreational activities with friends and family. He was an enthusiastic skier and hiker, and later became an avid mountain biker. He enjoyed photography, especially when combined with his other activities. He and Peggy were members of the Desert Dancers folk dance group for 40 years.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Peggy, as well as his daughters: Holly (Craig) Rous of Lodi, California, Megan (Rick) Guinn of Alexandria, Virginia, and Gwynne Cunningham of Carson City, Nevada.
Also surviving are his grandchildren: Dr. Elizabeth Aubry, Jeffrey Rous, Dr. Kevin (Libby) Rous, and Ian Cunningham and his great grandchildren: Layla, Jenna, Madison and Samantha. George (Mary Ann) Morley and Robert (Ann) Morley are surviving brothers-in-law, as well as several nieces and a nephew and his cousin, Joanna Conaway of Ocean View, Delaware A memorial service will be held on Friday, October 4, at 10 a.m. in the Holland and Lyons chapel.