Dr. Thomas Coor, 80, Was Eminent Physicist

Dr. Thomas Coor, eminent physicist who worked for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, died from complications of Alzheimer's disease on Nov. 30 on Martha's Vineyard. He was 80 years old.

Dr. Coor's professional career spanned the worlds of academe, government service and industry, and his scientific accomplishments encompassed chemistry, physics, engineering science and biology.

Dr. Coor, a native of Houston, Tex., began his career in 1949, serving with the United States Embassy in London as a science attaché. His responsibilities included coordinating the efforts of university research laboratories in Britain and the European continent.

From 1952 through 1960, he was a member of the research staff for an initiative code-named Project Matterhorn, what is today known as the Plasma Physics Laboratory of Princeton University. At Project Matterhorn he participated in early attempts to find a new source of power for peaceful applications of nuclear fusion. From 1960 through 1963, Dr. Coor was responsible for the design of many components of a 3-billion-electron-volt proton synchrotron, the joint undertaking of Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Coor also served as scientific secretary to the United Nations during this period, and in 1958 organized the technical program of the Second Geneva Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy.

Dr. Coor was a founder and director of Princeton Applied Research Corp., York Technology Ltd. (in the UK), BioTechnica International Inc., Advanced Magnetics Inc., and several other business ventures. He also served on the boards of Protein Engineering, Aaston Inc. and several other businesses.

Thomas Coor attended Rice University, graduating with a B.A. in chemistry in 1943. He then went to work at the U.S. Naval Observatory at Anacostia, Va. Following the end of the Second World War, Dr. Coor attained a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University in 1948, where his research focused in cosmic rays and elementary particle interactions. He was a member the honorary society of Sigma Xi and the American Physical Society, and was the author of numerous technical publications. Besides science, his lifelong passions included astronomy, classical music, fine arts and foreign travel.

He is survived by his wife, Jennifer Riseborough Coor (nee Agassiz) of Cambridge and Chilmark; his sister, Catherine Noble of Richmond, VAa.; his two sons by a previous marriage, Gordon Coor of Oyster Bay, N.Y., and Frederick Coor of Winchester, and three grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on Monday, Dec. 9, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Cambridge Boat Club, Gerry's Landing, Cambridge. Contributions in his memory should be made to the Vineyard Conservation Society.