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Howard R. Kratz, 96, Physicist

Howard R. Kratz, 96, Physicist

Howard Russell Kratz, 96, of Carolina Village, died Thursday, March 14, 2013, at the Village. Before his death, he was one of the last surviving scientists from the Manhattan Project, which produced the first atomic bomb during World War II.

Howard was born Nov. 2, 1916, in Mattoon, Wisconsin, to Samuel H. and Addie (Jones) Kratz, and spent his youth in nearby Clintonville and Waupaca. He graduated from Ripon College in Ripon, Wisc., and then pursued graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin and Princeton University, earning his PhD in physics in 1942.

Immediately after completing his studies, he married Mary K. Bunsa of Columbus, Wisc., whom he had met at Ripon College. The couple moved to Chicago, where Howard began working on the Manhattan Project as a staff member of the Metallurgical Lab at the University of Chicago. In 1944 Howard joined the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory to continue work on the Manhattan Project. He and Mary moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where they spent the remaining years of the war.

After the war, Howard continued his career as a nuclear physicist. From 1946 until 1959, he worked on research at the General Electric Research Laboratory in Schenectady, N.Y. There he and Mary raised their daughter, who was born in Los Alamos, and their son, who was born after their move to Schenectady.

In 1959 the family moved to California, where Howard was a researcher at General Atomics in La Jolla, near San Diego, until 1972. He then joined Systems, Science and Software, in San Diego, as a senior scientist, finishing his active professional career with retirement in 1978. Following his retirement, he and Mary moved to Hendersonville.

Howard is survived by his daughter, Marilyn Locker, of Scarsdale, N.Y.; his son, William Kratz, of Seattle, Wash.,; and two granddaughters, Martha and Joanna Locker, both of New York City. Howard was predeceased by his beloved wife Mary and his granddaughter Catherine Locker.

The family plans to hold a memorial service at Carolina Village.