Cover photo for Harold L. Adair's Obituary
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1938 Harold 2020

Harold L. Adair

October 13, 1938 — April 30, 2020

Harold L. Adair, age 81, passed away April 30, 2020. He was born October 13, 1938 in Buchanan, Georgia. Harold was a 1956 graduate of Dallas High School in Dallas, Georgia and a 1960 graduate of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia. Harold moved to Oak Ridge in 1960 to begin his career as a nuclear physicist. Over the years he completed two master’s degrees through the University of Tennessee (physics, industrial management) and served as a physicist and department head for many divisions: isotopes, solid state, operations, isotope preparations, and solid waste operations. In 1975, he received the NASA group achievement award for contributions to a space experiment of the diffusion of isotopes in the absence of gravity. This experiment was conducted as part of the joint United States-Soviet Apollo-Soyuz test project. He also contributed to the development of the DXA scanner that measures bone density, and he served as the president of the International Nuclear Target Development Society (INTDS) from 1986-1990. Harold loved math. When his ninth grade teacher passed out the algebra books the first week of school, Harold took the book home and finished it the first weekend.  While his son was in high school, Harold was known to “assist” with his son’s physics homework.  Later, he anxiously waited for his daughter to come home from a summer college math class so he could do her homework. After he retired, Harold used his love of math to help many with their taxes and worked for H&R Block for over 10 years attaining his “Enrolled Agent” status with the IRS.  In his tax classes, Harold would come to class the first night having read the entire text and giving the professor an errata outlining all the mistakes in the text.

Harold joined Central Baptist Church in 1960. He served the church as a deacon for decades. He also taught Sunday school and served on many committees including the Caring Center, Training Union, Hospital/Shut-In Ministry, and the Prayer Line Ministry. When hearing of his passing, Brother Bob Gray, Central Baptist Church’s former minister of music and associate pastor, shared how much he appreciated Harold’s leadership in the church and how he would say what needed to be said when problems arose. He didn’t let church politics influence his efforts. Harold also loved softball and played on several teams over the years including the ORNL, church, and city leagues. He also loved to play golf with his wife, Margie, and they enjoyed many hours on golf courses in Tennessee, Georgia, and Hawaii.

Harold leaves behind his loving wife of 60 years, Margie Adair. Harold and Margie knew each other their entire lives. They shared a classroom as first and third graders at Beulah Elementary, and they were later baptized on the same day by Margie’s father, the Rev. C. R. Campbell. He also leaves behind his two children: Son, Ed Adair (Karen) of Powell, Tennessee [grandchildren: Allison Adair (David Chester) and Katie Adair] and daughter, Donna Adair Breault (Rick) of Ashland, Ohio (grandchildren: Audrey and Niamh Breault). Additional survivors include his brother,  Ronald (Nancy) Adair (Dee Adair Reece, Steve Adair, Sheila Adair Lade) and his sister, Joyce McLarty (Megan Simms, Jonathan McLarty). Harold loved spending time with his family, particularly time with in-laws in Georgia where he would play Rook or Mexican Train with them for hours.

The family expresses its sincere gratitude to Summit View of Rocky Top and the Hospice Services of the University of Tennessee Medical Center for their compassion and care in Harold’s last days. Due to Covid-19, the family will have a small, private burial in Georgia. They hope to have a memorial service in Oak Ridge in the near future. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations to Alzheimer’s Tennessee ( in his memory.

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