Chapel Hill: Obituaries

George Peter Wachtell

George “Peter” Wachtell was born March 18, 1923, in Bronx, New York. He passed away peacefully on December 31, 2014, at the age of 91. Dr. Wachtell was predeceased by a son, Seth Daniel Wachtell, who died in 1957, at the age of 21 months. Dr. Wachtell is survived by two daughters – Janet Wachtell Hadler, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Jahan Jacobson, formerly Susan Wachtell, of Marlton, New Jersey; 3 grandchildren - Jessica Hadler, Michael Hadler, and Marissa Hadler; and his beloved companion of many years, Marion Steininger, of Voorhees Township, New Jersey.

Dr. Wachtell received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from MIT in 1943. His thesis was on Piezo-electric Studies. He was a contributing author to Volume 3 of the MIT Radiation Laboratory Series on Radar Beacons. This series summarizes some of the great technical advances made in radar by the United States during World War II. He received his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University in 1951 and began work at the Franklin Institute (later known at the Franklin Research Center) in 1951. He received the Franklin Institute Scientist of the Year award in 1986. He was recognized as an expert in thermodynamics, heat transfer, supersonic flow, shock waves, chemical kinetics, optic, interior ballistics, electronics and combustion phenomena. His 20 scholarly technical papers on these scientific subjects have been published in numerous journals and transactions. During his more than 30 years at the Franklin Research Center, he made numerous significant engineering and scientific contributions. An FRC colleague offered the following comment: “His brilliance was the most obvious but he made no one feel inferior in his presence.” He was a well-rounded individual who loved classical music and literature. “Pete” was also well known for his sense of humor and wit, his kind and gentle spirit, and the twinkle in his eyes that accompanied his boyish grin. He will be greatly missed.

The funeral will be at Riverside Memorial Chapel in Manhattan, Sunday, January 4, 2015 at 11:15, followed by internment at Mount Hope Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson.