Harold â€œHalâ€ Lloyd Davis, 91, of Oak Ridge, went to be with the Lord, December 7, 2021. He passed surrounded by his family following a short illness. Halâ€™s legacy of love for his family and passion for learning will stay with his family and friends forever.
Harold was born at home on September 18, 1930, to Bertha and Ray Davis in Portage, Ohio, and he grew up in the Buckeye State. From the very beginning, Harold had a strong passion and aptitude for education. He attended Portage Elementary School in Ohio, a school with three classes in one room and no indoor plumbing. In high school, he was bused from Portage to Bowling Green. He graduated in 1948 and started his college education at Bowling Green State University that fall.
In 1952, he interrupted his education to serve in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He performed personnel duties at the regimental level and was in charge of the regimental Morning Report; after all, he could type! He was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant in 1953 and returned to Bowling Green State University where he was awarded a B.S. (cum laude) in Physics in June 1954.
Never one to sit still, he spent the summer as a bricklayer working for various contractors in the vicinity of Bowling Green before enrolling as a physics graduate student at Ohio State University that fall. His drive to learn led to Harold passing a two-day test that allowed him to continue his studies toward a Ph.D. at Ohio State without taking time for a masterâ€™s degree. His formal education ended with Ohio State awarding Harold a Ph.D. in theoretical materials science on Friday June 12, 1959.
The best part of his education was meeting the love of his life, Elizabeth â€œBettyâ€ Ayers, at Bowling Green State and again at Ohio State. Two days after getting his Ph.D., they were married on Sunday, June 14, 1959, and started their lives together.
Betty and Harold took about two weeks to drive to Haroldâ€™s job with Sandiaâ€™s Physical Science in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Harold worked studying magnetism and the use of computers in research. He published joint papers with colleague, Al Naath, as well as a major paper on how small particles and molecules descend through the upper atmosphere.
This led to the unique honor of being an observer for Operation Domnic, the testing of the atomic bomb. At Christmas Island, Harold observed one bomb detonated a few thousand feet above the sea, and then while standing on the deck of the aircraft carrier Iwo Jima, he observed the detonation of a second bomb about 100 miles above the earth.
Harold considered his greatest achievement while in New Mexico was the birth of his son, George Harold Davis, in June 1960.
In 1963, Betty and Harold decided to move east, and Harold joined the Bellcomm Corporation in Washington, D.C. Haroldâ€™s main focus was research and systems analysis on the re-entry heat on the Apollo module. After a year, Harold found that he didnâ€™t enjoy working in the downtown of a large city, and he was able to accept a job at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He and Betty moved to Oak Ridge in December 1964 and shortly thereafter welcomed their daughter, Jennifer Sue Davis, into the family.
Arriving at ORNL, Harold joined the Metals and Ceramics Division, later transferring to the Solid-State Division in 1969. Harold conducted theoretical solid-state research, surface science, low-energy electric diffraction, and large-scale numerical computation. Harold believed in scientific cooperation, so he collaborated with other scientists both at home and abroad, primarily with J. S. Faulkner in the calculation of electronic properties of metals and J. S. Noonan on the study of the surfaces of solids.
During his career, Harold published over 100 papers, and h was regarded as a top expert in his field. He presented his results at conferences, gave invited talks, and was the featured speaker at seminars at universities and research laboratories both in the United States and internationally, including in Europe, Hong Kong, and China. In 1971, he worked as a visiting scientist in Harwell, England, and in 1985 as a visiting professor at Rice University in Houston.
Harold was elected a fellow in the American Physical Society in 1972. He received awards at ORNL in 1986 and 1987 for outstanding scientific publication and in 1995 for outstanding research representing a significant advance in his scientific field. He was honored as one of the top 25 â€œAccomplished Graduatesâ€ at Bowling Green State Universityâ€™s spring commencement 100,000th Graduate Celebration on May 6, 1989.
After nearly 60 years formally learning and sharing his knowledge with others, he retired and spent the next 20 years still pursuing his love of learning by traveling with his wife, Betty, and taking classes through Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning. He was an avid reader and could often be found browsing the stacks at the Oak Ridge Public Library.
Harold always believed that his most important job was as a husband and father. Whenever possible, his wife Betty joined him on his scientific visits. Their passports were well stamped. She made sure they saw any cathedrals that might be nearby. He served as a Boy Scout father for several years and attended the father-daughter luncheon held by Oak Ridge Schools every year. He attended St. Stephens Episcopal Church with his family and later joined the church by confirmation in his retirement. Keeping with his passion for education, he volunteered with the Friends of the Library and even taught a few classes at ORNL.
Hal combined a deep sense of humor with a generous spirit and will be remembered for both. Halâ€™s parting quote: â€œIt was a good life and a lot of fun.â€ He was preceded in death by wife, Betty Davis; sister, Jean Davis; nephew, Dennis West; and his parents. Survivors include children, George and Jennifer Davis; brother-in-law, Robert Luchsinger and wife, Norma; and nephews, Jeffrey and Jim Luchsinger and their families, and Dave West.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the St. Stephens Episcopal Church Rectorâ€™s Discretionary Fund. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, December 17, 2021. An online guest book is available at weatherfordmortuary.com.