Almanac

Community - August 18, 2010

Obituaries

Carolyn L. Rutherford

Carolyn L. Rutherford, who joined her husband, Robert Rutherford, in founding the Marine Science Institute in Redwood City 40 years ago, died July 24. A resident of The Sequoias in Portola Valley for nine years, Ms. Rutherford was 80.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ms. Rutherford was a graduate of Florida State University. She married Robert Rutherford in 1951 in St. Petersburg, Florida, and lived in Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Egypt, and England, as well as the United States, during the past 49 years.

She was a bi-lingual secretary for many years before joining her husband in founding the Marine Science Institute. More than a million students of all ages discovered the wonders of the San Francisco Bay Estuary through the institute, say family members. Later she worked for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in Los Altos for 15 years.

Ms. Rutherford sang with the Peninsula Women's Chorus for 30 years, as well as in church choirs. She and her husband traveled with the chorus to England and Wales, Europe and Hawaii. Throughout her life she volunteered and gave generously to causes for the poor and human rights, particularly for women and children, say family members. She worked with the Redwood City Library in Project Read and volunteered for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexia, accumulating more than 10,000 hours of recorded reading.

She is survived by her husband of 59 years, Robert "Bob" Rutherford; sons Tom Rutherford of Michigan and Jeff Rutherford of Santa Barbara; and daughters Janet Rutherford of Portola Valley and Amy Rutherford of Mountain View.

Ashton J. O'Donnell

Ashton J. O'Donnell, who worked on the atomic bomb during World War II, died July 28 in San Rafael at the age of 89. Mr. O'Donnell, a former resident of Atherton and Woodside, later helped develop nuclear power for peaceful uses.

Born in Helena, Montana, Mr. O'Donnell graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

During World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project. After the war, he worked for the new Atomic Energy Commission and for the late scientist Edward Teller at Lawrence Livermore Labs in Berkeley.

He was an early supporter of the Atoms for Peace Program, joining Stanford Research Institute (SRI International) as manager of nuclear economics in 1954.

The next year he attended the first U.N. International Conference on peaceful uses of atomic energy in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1957, he took part in the first U.S.-Japan Joint Atomic Industrial Forum Conference on peaceful nuclear energy, and toured 17 countries to study their nuclear energy programs.

From 1961 to 1964, Mr. O'Donnell was the U.S. senior scientific advisor to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

In 1964, Mr. O'Donnell joined Bechtel Corp., where he spent the next 22 years. In 1977 he became the first leader of Bechtel National, the company's government contracting arm.

He was a member of the Atomic Industrial Forum, the American Nuclear Society, the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management, and the Sons and Daughters of Montana Pioneers.

In retirement, the O'Donnells spent part of each year at their second home in Idaho's Sawtooth Valley.

He served as a member of Whitman College's board of overseers and as a member and chair of its board of trustees. In 1997 Whitman awarded him an honorary doctor of science degree. In 2002 the O'Donnells established the Ashton J. and Virginia Graham O'Donnell Chair in Global Studies at the college.

In addition to his wife of 66 years, Virginia (Gini), he is survived by three daughters: Sherry Burns of Cupertino, Joan O'Donnell of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Jennifer Conner of San Rafael; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. His daughter, Lynn, preceded him in death.

The family will hold private celebrations of Mr. O'Donnell's life in California and Idaho.

Contributions may be made to the O'Donnell Global Studies Chair, Whitman College, 345 Boyer Ave., Walla Walla, WA 99362; or the Sawtooth Society, P.O. Box 209, Stanley, ID 83278.

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