The obituary of Arch C. Scurlock, which appeared Dec. 14, incorrectly reported that his father had once been a Methodist minister. (Published 12/15/02)
Arch C. Scurlock, 82, a chemical engineer and prominent area businessman who helped guide Cold War defense research and development through his Atlantic Research Corp. and the investment company Research Industries Inc., died Dec. 9 at his home in Arlington. He had congestive heart failure.
In 1949, Dr. Scurlock co-founded Alexandria-based ARC, an early specialist in missile, defense and electronics contracts. The business was covered extensively by The Washington Post, which reported that ARC sales were $1 million in 1953 and $36.3 million in 1963.
In the late 1950s, ARC subcontracted with the Martin Co. of Baltimore to build solid-propellant rockets essential to the push and stabilization of one of the first space satellites. It also worked on ocean-swell recorders and dehumidifiers for atomic submarines, often acquiring other firms in the process.
Controversies arose about top management when the Securities and Exchange Commission reportedly found inaccuracies in ARC's 1961 annual report. The SEC suspended trading of ARC's stock.
In 1965, Dr. Scurlock lost a proxy battle for control to co-founder Arthur W. Sloan. He then concentrated on the next phase of his career, venture capitalism.
In 1968, he and John H. Grover established Research Industries, which invested in startup companies that became multimillion-dollar enterprises. They included TransTechnology Corp. of California, which manufactures products for the aerospace, defense and textile industries, and Halifax Corp., an engineering firm in Alexandria.
At his death, he was chairman and chief executive of Research Industries and board chairman of Halifax. He had seen Halifax through rough moments, including a scandal in the late 1990s involving a former controller who pleaded guilty to embezzling millions from the company.
Arch Chilton Scurlock was born in Beaumont, Tex., the son of a Methodist minister who became district attorney of Jefferson County, Tex. His maternal grandfather was Sen. Horace Chilton (D-Tex.), whose own grandfather, Thomas Chilton, served as an anti-Jacksonian congressman from Kentucky in the 1830s.
Dr. Scurlock found satisfaction in science, not politics.
"About the time I was 10, I started tinkering with model airplanes," he told The Post. "I even designed a special type of helicopter. Other than that, I was just interested in swimming and running around. I didn't start finding myself until I was a sophomore and started math and physics courses."
He received bachelor's degrees in chemical engineering and physics from the University of Texas at Austin and a master's degree and a doctorate in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
During World War II, he was a Navy meteorologist and flew on reconnaissance missions in the South Pacific.
He spent a year with Engineering Research Associates in Arlington before going into business with Sloan, an organic chemist and ERA colleague.
Through their extensive contacts, the men in their first business year got a contract from the Navy ordnance bureau to develop a solid-propellant system.
He was a former president of the Greater Washington Industrial Council.
His marriage to Maurine Spurbeck Scurlock ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, Nancy Morrison Yonick Scurlock, whom he married in 1962, of Arlington; three children from the first marriage, Arch Chilton Scurlock Jr. of Annandale, Susan Scurlock Theiler of Alexandria and Marvin Curtis Scurlock of Fredericksburg; three daughters from the second marriage, Mary Scurlock Adamson of Portland, Ore., Nancy Scurlock Collins of Bermuda and Margaret Ann Scurlock of New York; a stepdaughter, Tracey Yonick Lane of Seattle; 10 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.