David Alexander McArthur passed away in Rio Rancho, New Mexico on Tuesday, April 18, 2023. He was born in Meridian, Mississippi and attended schools in Meridian and Jackson. Because of severe asthma, he moved in 1954 to the Brandeis School in Tucson, Arizona. His health rapidly improved, and he graduated in 1956 at the very top of his class (of 996 students) from Tucson High School. He studied physics at the University of Arizona and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1960. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study for one year at the Karl Maximilian University in Munich, Germany.
Following those studies, he traveled to Quetta, West Pakistan to marry his beloved Beverley Bogue, where she was living with her father, geologist Richard Bogue, and did volunteer work. David entered the University of California at Berkeley in 1962, where he assisted in high energy physics research, and later did experimental and theoretical research in nuclear magnetic resonance, earning a PhD in June 1967. David did laser research for two years at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Holmdel, NJ before moving to Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM. During his 30-year career, he did experimental and theoretical research on high-energy electron beams, imaging of gamma rays, and the safety of fast nuclear reactors. With colleague Phillip Tollefsrud, he proved the feasibility of laser light production directly by nuclear reactors. He and Tollefsrud received a US patent on concepts for reactor-pumped lasers.
As a result of this work, he was among the first group of Distinguished Members of Technical Staff designated by Sandia National Laboratories. At the end of his 30-year career, he spent almost three years in Washington, DC with a Sandia group supporting DOE work on safe disposal of plutonium taken from Russian nuclear weapons under the SALT treaty. He attended two conferences at Russian nuclear laboratories, where his pioneering nuclear-pumped laser work was recognized.
David is survived by his beloved wife, Beverley; his children, Shirin McArthur (Henry Hoffman) of Marana, AZ, Kara McArthur (David Jarrett) of Albuquerque, NM, and Paul David McArthur (Katja Recke) of Wermelskirchen, Germany; his cherished grandchildren, Francesca Virginia Jarrett and James David Jarrett; and his twin brother, Robert Donnell McArthur (Donna); his sister, Frances McArthur (Daniel Fraikin); his brother, Richard Kenneth McArthur, and his sister, Mary Kathleen McArthur (George Stocking).
A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, June 3, 2023, at 2:00 p.m., at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 5301 Ponderosa Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the charity of your choice.