Dr. David Bulkeley Langmuir died peacefully at his home in Santa Monica, Calif., alert and surrounded by his family, on Jan. 31. Dr. Langmuir was 94 years old. He was a longtime summer resident of the Vineyard, starting from his graduate student days in the 1930s when his father, Charles, and mother, Edith, bought property on East Chop and in Chilmark. His children and grandchildren have spent time every summer on the Vineyard with him and his wife, Marianna, and the family tradition continues at the family home on East Chop. The extended family had a reunion last June on the occasion of David and Nancy's 60th anniversary.
Born in Los Angeles, Dr. Langmuir was graduated from Yale in 1931, and received a Ph.D. in physics from MIT. During World War II he worked closely with Vannevar Bush, serving as the radar representative of the United States in England, work that saved thousands of lives and for which he was decorated with the Medal of Freedom. After the war he was Secretary of the Guided Missile Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, representative to Canada of the Atomic Energy Commission, and then founder and director of the Electronics Research Laboratory at the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation, which eventually grew to be the Physical Research Center at TRW Inc. His group of several hundred scientists and engineers sought to apply basic science to the solution of practical problems in spacecraft propulsion, semiconductor electronics, lasers and holography, automotive emission controls and nuclear safety. A distinguishing attribute of Dr. Langmuir's leadership was the enduring loyalty and esteem of those who worked for him, a reflection of the interest he took in them.
After retiring in 1973, Dr. Langmuir consulted and worked on science education for young people; he received a patent in 1999 for a DNA model that demonstrated DNA replication for teaching purposes. He worked tirelessly on translation, including The Biosphere by V. I. Vernadsky, published in 1998. He also explored deeply the ideas of G.I. Gurdjieff, Tibetan Buddhism and Panetics, which is devoted to the reduction of suffering in the world. He worked closely with teenagers for more than 30 years, and was beloved by all who experienced his listening, intelligence, compassion, humor and objectivity. His love of the outdoors was contagious and shared with others. He was able to have enlivening conversations with any person from any walk in life.
A memorial service will take place on the Vineyard at the time of interment of his ashes next to his mother the weekend of June 21.
He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Marianna (Nancy), daughters Diana Rosenthal and Jean Langmuir, son Charles Langmuir, and five grandchildren.
Dr. Langmuir strived in his final years to see his DNA teaching model placed in high school classrooms. Donations to help this occur can be sent to Marianna Langmuir, 350 21st street, Santa Monica, CA 90402. Or, donations may be made in Dr. Langmuir's name to The Gurdjieff Foundation of California, the Shambala Center of Los Angeles and Panetics, mailed to the same address.