Dr. Richard J. Raridon, a devoted and loving husband, father and grandfather, passed away on Sunday, June 17, 2018, at the Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge after a four-week battle with pancreatitis.
Richard, known to many as Dick, was born October 25, 1931, on a farm near Newton, Iowa, the son of Jack Allison and Letha Helen Woods Raridon. He graduated from Grinnell, Iowa, High School and Grinnell College. He received an AEC Radiological Physics Fellowship to attend graduate school at Vanderbilt University, earning an MA in physics in 1955. While attending Vanderbilt, he met the former Mona Marie Herndon, who was also an AEC Fellowship recipient, and they were married in 1956. He earned a PhD in physical chemistry from Vanderbilt in 1958.
Dick was an Associate Professor of Physical Science at Memphis State University before joining Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in 1962, where he worked in the Chemistry, Computer Science and Fusion Energy Divisions before taking early retirement in 1992. He was the author or co-author of more than 100 papers in the fields of chemistry, physics and computer science. He was a member of Sigma XI, the Scientific Research Society, and listed in Who’s Who of America.
He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Tennessee Academy of Science (TAS), also serving as its president. He also served as Secretary and President of the National Association of Academies of Science (NAAS).
Following retirement, Dick continued to consult with ORNL and served as an adjunct professor at Pellissippi State Community College. He also worked for the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education for six years, preparing the question sets for the Department of Energy National Science Bowl competition and he continued to volunteer with the local competition.
Dick was a life-long lover of plants, starting with a spot in his grandfather’s garden at age 5. He had a large greenhouse full of tropical plants and freely shared plants and his love for them with others. He volunteered with the UT Arboretum Society, serving several terms on the Board of Directors and as plant sale chairman for 17 years.
Dick was an avid volunteer with many other organizations, including 20 years with the American Museum of Science and Energy, where he volunteered weekly, had served on the Board of the AMSE Foundation and coordinated the summer bus tours of the Graphite Reactor and other historic Oak Ridge sites. He also volunteered regularly at the Manhattan Project National Park site in Oak Ridge. He enjoyed trains and served as a car host/tour guide and ticket agent for the Secret City Excursion Train sponsored by the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum. He was on the Boards of Clinch River Home Health and the Oak Ridge Historic Preservation Association and was also a long-time member of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, having served as its Treasurer and President. He was a 50-year member of the United Church, Chapel on the Hill, where he served on the Board, sang in the choir and tended the landscaping since 1965. He loved to travel and take pictures. He and his wife traveled to all 50 states, 6 continents and over 50 countries.
He had a passion for education and life-long learning. He was a coach for a Robertsville Middle School team participating in the statewide MathCounts competition. Until the last month of his life, he enjoyed spending evenings answering students’ online questions in physics, chemistry and calculus.
Dick was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 60 years, Mona Raridon. He is survived by two daughters and their families, Susan and Clifton Lambreth and sons Matthew Richard, Daniel and Bradley Lambreth, of Brentwood, Tennessee, and Ann Raridon and her husband Rusty Dupont, and daughter Chaney Marie Dupont of Blacksburg, Virginia; a sister, Jeanene Upton, of Grand Saline, Texas; a half-sister, Sue Robison, of Newton, Iowa; brother-in-law James Gross and wife Junita of Frankfort, Kentucky; and many nieces and nephews including Thomas, Laurel and Richard Upton and Leil Gross of Texas, and Stacy Parritt and Brad Gross of Kentucky.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 pm on July 1, 2018, at the United Church. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Pastors Discretionary Fund of the United Church, 85 Kentucky Avenue, Oak Ridge, TN 37830 or the UT Arboretum Society, P.O. Box 5382, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-5382.
To leave a note for Dick’s family, or to share a memory, please sign the online guestbook at jacksonfuneralservices.com.
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