Elmer Lewis


Aug. 2, 1915 Jan. 7, 2004

Elmer Lewis Kelly of Sonora died Jan. 7 at his home. He was 88.

He was born in Attoway, Va. He grew up with four brothers and one sister on a small farm outside of Bristol, Va. He became an expert welder, which later helped him work his way through college. He was valedictorian of his high school class and earned highest honors when he graduated from the University of Virginia in 1941 with a degree in physics. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi.

He was accepted at the University of California, Berkeley, to work with the famous physicist Earnest O. Lawrence. As the United States entered World War II, he was working on his thesis, but soon was recruited to work on the Manhattan Project in Oakridge, which led to the first atomic bomb.

After the war, he returned to Berkeley and received his doctoral degree and began his lifelong work for the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. He assumed the leadership for the design and construction of a novel nuclear accelerator that became known as the 88-inch cyclotron. This was a reliable, scientific research tool that allowed exploration of the frontiers of subatomic physics that is still operating after 40 years. After the completion of this project, he was appointed associate director of the laboratory, and in this position he contributed substantially to the rapid growth and expansion of the laboratory, his family added.

He married Lola Szanto, a biologist, who also worked for Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. His family said they were very fond of the outdoors.

After a divorce from Lola, he married his second wife, Elisabeth, in 1973.

They also shared a fondness of the outdoors and traveled extensively through the United States and Europe, his family added. They also went on a safari in Kenya a few years ago. He and his longtime friend, Tor Myhrer, bought and remodeled a 60-foot medical emergency service boat in Norway and guided adventures off the coast of Norway among thousands of islands and across the Arctic Ocean to Spitzbergen.

His family said he was an avid reader and a loving father and husband who was generous, tolerant, kind and had a great sense of humor. They said he fulfilled the dream of living on a ranch with Elisabeth.

Mr. Kelly is survived by his wife of 30 years, Elisabeth Kelly of Sonora; two sons and daughters-in-law, Ronald and Jan Kelly and Gerald and Cheryle Kelly, all of Berkeley; two grandchildren, Alani and Sean Kelly, both of Berkeley; a sister, Margaret Dunham of Berkeley; and a brother, Robert Kelly of Florida.

A memorial service will be Aug. 1 at Cliff Lake, west of Mt. Shasta. For directions, call the family.

Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.


FRIGO Visitation for Nicole Frigo, 28, of Sonora, who died Thursday at a Sonora hospital, is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. today at Heuton Memorial Chapel. A funeral service will be at 4 p.m. today at the chapel.