Merson Booth, nuclear engineer

December 2, 2012

Merson Booth, 88, a retired nuclear engineer with the old Atomic Energy Commission, died Oct. 26 at his home in Bethesda. He had Parkinson’s disease, his son William Booth said.

Mr. Booth was a 1946 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Early in his naval duty, he was assigned to work on the U.S. nuclear weapons program in Los Alamos, N.M.

In the early 1950s, he was recruited by Adm. Hyman S. Rickover to participate in the early development of the Navy’s first nuclear-powered vessels.

While serving in the Navy, Mr. Booth attended graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving advanced degrees in naval architecture and marine engineering in 1953 and in nuclear engineering in 1955.

He resigned from the Navy as a lieutenant commander in 1958 and joined the Atomic Energy Commission. He worked in reactor development and retired in 1972 as chief of systems.

Merson Booth was born in Minneapolis. He was a member of the Naval Academy’s Class of 1947 but graduated a year early as part of an accelerated wartime program. He was captain of the sailing team at the Naval Academy.

In later years, Mr. Booth sailed a Hinckley Bermuda 40 sailboat on Chesapeake Bay and was a commodore of the Chesapeake Bay Bermuda-40 Association. He was a member of the Gibson Island Club in Anne Arundel County and River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bethesda.

He volunteered at St. John’s College in Annapolis and completed the course work for a doctorate in philosophy at Georgetown University.

Survivors include his wife of 64 years, Barbara Winter Booth of Bethesda; three children, James Booth of Davis, Calif., Kathryn Johnson and William Booth, both of Bethesda; and seven grandchildren.

— Matt Schudel

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