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Samuel J. Raff, nuclear physicist

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011; 8:14 PM

Samuel J. Raff, 90, a nuclear physicist who worked for the Defense Department, edited a trade journal and later became a professor, died Jan. 27 at his home in Chevy Chase. He had emphysema.

From 1990 until 2003, Dr. Raff was an electrical engineering and computer science professor at George Washington University. In 1963, he became editor of the scientific journal Computers and Operations Research, a position he held until 2003.

In 1978, he founded Bethesda Corp., a defense contracting company later acquired by Mandex Inc. He was the director of scientific applications until 1990.

Dr. Raff was born in New York City. He received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1943 from the City College of New York and a master's degree and a doctorate, both in physics, from the University of Maryland.

He moved to the Washington region in 1945 and served in the Navy at the end of World War II, stationed at the Washington Navy Yard. From the late 1940s until 1964, he worked for the now-defunct Naval Ordnance Laboratory in White Oak, where he led the systems analysis group.

From 1968 to 1978, he was a program manager at the National Science Foundation. Throughout his career, he was a research associate for defense projects at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Dr. Raff books included "Microwave System Engineering Principles" (1977) and "Humor in our Everyday Phrases" (1995).

His wife of 25 years, Lillian Buckner Raff, died in 1969. His second marriage, to Anna Pryce Raff, ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 24 years, Barbara Loeb Raff of Chevy Chase; four children from his first marriage, Melvin Raff of Takoma Park, Brian Raff of Germantown, Nina Raff of San Francisco and Terri Hurley of Gaithersburg; two children from his second marriage, Sara Manson of Newport, R.I., and Franklin Raff of Tel Aviv; a sister; nine grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

- Lauren Wiseman


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