James W. Vaughan Jr.
senior federal executive

James W. Vaughan Jr., former assistant secretary of energy for nuclear energy and an assistant to Adm. Hyman G. Rickover in the development of naval nuclear propulsion, died Dec. 4 at Mount Vernon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Fairfax County. He was 77.

The cause was brain cancer, said his son, Keith Vaughan.

Mr. Vaughan was assistant secretary for nuclear energy from 1984 to 1987. He began his federal career in1957 in the Naval nuclear propulsion program and for 28 years reported directly to Rickover, widely regarded as the father of the nuclear navy.

On retiring from federal service in 1987, Mr. Vaughan was president and general manager of Halliburton NUS environmental corporation in Gaithersburg until 1993 and then for 10 years was a private technical and management consultant.

James Willard Vaughan Jr. was born in Durham, N.C. As a youngster, he became an Eagle Scout, and he was a Boy Scout leader as an adult.

He graduated from Duke University in 1957 and did postgraduate study in nuclear engineering at George Washington University and the University of Maryland.

He was a member of the Senior Executive Service and received awards for distinguished service. He was an Alexandria resident.

Survivors include his wife of 56 years, Frances Smith Vaughan of Alexandria; two sons, Kevin S. Vaughan of Cleveland and Keith A. Vaughan of Washington; a brother; and two grandsons.    

— Bart Barnes