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Obituary



John Lawrence Cassingham Born Dec. 22, 1918, Carlsbad, NM, died Dec. 23, 2007, Portola Valley, CA. Survived by his wife Marjorie (Berg), daughter Carol Swanson, sons Curt, Brian and Randy, four granddaughters, one grandson, two great grandchildren, a nephew and two nieces; predeceased by parents Carl and Ethel Ryan, and sister Jean Rockhold. After 10 years living near Stanford and becoming loyal to Stanford Sports, Larry relocated with family to southern California where he had his business education. He served in the states as a meteorologist in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Afterward he became an entrepreneur, in the late '40s starting a business, Detectron, manufacturing geophysical instruments and with a partner inventing, manufacturing, and marketing the first practical portable Geiger counter and the nucleometer to capitalize on the "uranium boom". A second company, Computer Measurements, developed high speed counters and a computer printer. He was one of the few nuclear materials experts in the private sector, and conducting his business in North Hollywood he was often recruited as a technical advisor for 1950s "atomic" movies and adventure TV shows. He also served as consultant to municipalities as they sought to have proper instruments to recognize and measure radiation. During these years he amassed a large collection of rare forms of uranium ore, which he donated to Stanford University in 2005. After retiring in 1969, relocating his family to Ladera in Portola Valley to be again near to Stanford activities, he was lured into a second career in the Silicon Valley, consulting at chip fabrication plants to reduce the number of circuits damaged by static electricity -- a major problem in the 1970s and 80s. A man of great curiosity, he traveled widely. Special interests were fine art and music, cooking, humor, Stanford sports, and the sciences. He was a talented amateur astronomer, bolstered by information from a son working for NASA and a friend at SLAC who passed along the latest on quarks, neutrinos and black holes. He enjoyed full eclipses of the sun in Kenya and Mexico and mourned the loss of his vision most when he could no longer see the heavens. His final expression of trust in Stanford was to will his body to the Medical School with the challenge to understand the ravages of hypertension and atherosclerosis on an aging body. Memorial Service will be held Saturday Jan. 12 at 2 pm at Portola Valley Presbyterian Church. 945 Portola Road, Portola Valley.
Published in the San Jose Mercury News on 1/9/2008.

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