Paul Griffith Shewmon
  • 85 years old
  • Date of birth: Apr 18, 1930
  • Place of birth:
    Rochelle, Illinois, United States
  • Date of passing: Nov 26, 2015
  • Place of passing:
    Columbus, Ohio, United States

Paul Shewmon passed away due to complications from Parkinson's disease on Thanksgiving, 2015.  His family created this website to celebrate his life by sharing stories and photos. 

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Janet Morrow on 20th February 2016

"I met with my uncle Paul only a few times, but those times made a deep impression on me.  I remember fondly the last time I visited Columbus to give a seminar at Ohio State.  Paul was in the audience and my host didn't start the seminar until he arrived!  Afterwards, Paul didn't hesitate to question the importance of the mechanistic chemical research that we were doing at the time.  I met with Andy and Betsy on that trip.  Paul was intense, but very interesting.  Even in retirement, he kept up with energy policy and science and we had lively discussions.  I feel honored to have had the chance to get to know him a little bit."

This tribute was added by hamdy shalaby on 29th January 2016

"I graduated from OSU in 1981 from the Department of Metallurgical Engineering. Today, I learned of the passing away of Prof. Shewmon through the internet. I always admired Prof. Shewmon. He was dear to my heart. I always felt that he was a noble person. When I was at OSU, I noticed that he liked to act tough, sharp and direct, but behind this tough act, a very kind heart. I kept contact with him all these years, but a few years ago, he informed me that he was unable to write e-mails any longer due to Parkinson disease. I do not know how to express my sorrow for the passing away of such a wonderful person. All what I can say: God Bless His Soul."

This tribute was added by Susana Protasio on 11th January 2016

"What a sad message to bring me back to the old Columbus times. Prof. Shewmon lectured one of the most interesting classes and he got a kick of making me say the name of French scientists during class. He would write a name on the board and wink at me to say it out loud when he wanted to mention the particular one. I was never too sure if that was inability to read and speak in French or just a way to force me concentrate on what was going on in his lecture. I had the pleasure of receiving him and his first wife in Portugal when they were cruising the world when her health did not allow other type of travelling. He was kind enough to write me a personal letter to confirm some scientific evidence of one of my husband’s theory although he had already passed away and would get no credit from it. But that made my day… I hope you will find the strength in good memories and will be able to not miss his presence."

This tribute was added by Dave Shewmon on 12th December 2015

"It was with great sadness that I learned about the death of Dr Shewmon.
I had the chance to do my Ph.D. at the Metallurgical Engineering Department of OSU in the early eighties, at a time when it was certainly the best metallurgy department of the world; and Dr shewmon was pivotal to this.
I still have his book on diffusion on my shelf at work; best ever written book on the subject.
I have a fond memory of Dr Shewmon: for the first written exam I took at OSU, I was just arriving from France and could hardly speak English. It was an exam on diffusion theory and Dr Shewmon gave me the best grade of the class ! Good thing that diffusion can be explained with equations rather than words; in fact this encouraged me since I then knew that with such smart people I could manage with my poor English.
I will always be grateful to this department and to Dr Shewmon for my professional career.

Guy-Michel Raynaud"

This tribute was added by Babs Janko on 7th December 2015

"I have fond memories having lunch with Paul and Betsy on Tuesdays. Clay ladies, Margaret, Jane and I would meet at Paul and Betsy’s to do clay in her studio. When we broke for lunch we were treated to delicious soups made by “chef” Paul.  There were so many… lentil, bean, pea, chowders and more. We would tease Paul we were compiling a file for his “Paul’s Soup” cook book. He always put his"twist" on the recipe.  Lunch finished with Paul’s famous oatmeal cookie.  He was a great host, making tea and seeing to our needs.  We enjoyed entertaining him with our stories and adventures. It was great fun. I'm glad we had time together and shared family stories.
My condolences to Betsy and his family."

This tribute was added by Dave Shewmon on 5th December 2015

"We have known Paul since he joined the Argonne Nat'l Lab. In no time we be became very close friends, sharing fun times with Dorothy and their children. Paul and Dorothy were exceptional hosts, their dinner parties were always memorable. Dorothy had very special entrees and Paul sometimes contributed a new recipe for desert. Like a true scientist, he experimented with recipes, but with his favorite, a cheesecake, he went all out, trying out all the recipes he could get his hand on. If I remember right, the "New York Cheesecake won the prize: a true calorie bomb.
We have so many fond memories of Paul. The one I would like to share with you is when we were driving home from the traditional Christmas Party of our friend the Westlakes who lived in Wheaton. It was a cold night as we gathered around our parked cars. The roads were not yet cleared of the recent snow fall, so Paul volunteered to lead the way. When he came to a crossroad in the middle of wide open fields, he stopped the car. looked up into the starry night and told us, there is the North Star, I think we have to turn right! He was right- as always!
     He was a great supporter of the Host Program that Dorothy, Jean Nevitt and I started for the foreign visitors at Argonne. As far as I know, the program is still going on. Paul and Dorothy were able to visit the many friends abroad they have made participating as hosts.
     We mourn the loss of our dear friend with Betsy and with Dave and Andy and their families. We keep the good memories alive.
Marianne Kocks <>"

This tribute was added by Bill Shack on 3rd December 2015

"I followed Paul as the "materials related" person on the Advisory Committee for Reactor Safeguards (nobody could replace him). He was legendary on the Committee and he kept his keen interest in nuclear power and the NRC even after he left the Committee. I never could convince him that he was wrong about global warming though."

This tribute was added by Russ Gibbs on 3rd December 2015

"What a good life!  I knew the Shewmon family from our days in Stillman Valley when we lived on the same block across from the Swedish church.  Good place to grow up and go to schools in Stillman Valley.  We were fortunate to be able to participate  in athletics, and band as well as learn.  Paul forgot more than I ever learned. As we worked in various places somehow we stayed in touch.  One night Paul and Dorothy when they were living in Elmhurst and he was working at the Argone I believe,  invited some Stillman grads who were in the area for dinner.  It was a cold night and we learned you didn't have to chill the white wine as all you had to do was put it between the drapes and the window.  Never knew how many bottles Paul had there but he could reach from his chair and get a bottle to pour .
Paul was very smart but could always relate to everyone in the conversation. We conversed periodically with the happenings in the Valley.  I will miss the emails and occasional call about a variety of subjects.
Lots of good memories.
Russ Gibbs"

This tribute was added by Harry Paxton on 3rd December 2015

"I first met Paul in 1953 when he was a grad student (on a difficult thesis) and I was a brand new aP. Over all the years I knew him(62), his responsibilities changed but he did not. He was always looking to make sure he understood, and then he could teach you.
  I was his "boss" only once - in the '60's - and I remember well his stare when things went awry. All one had to do was admit error and we were friends again. He followed me at NSF when I had tried to get a start on materials science being recognized as a legitimate subject (i.e. one could get grants - on merit!) - he added a great deal.
  Then there were the phone calls and e-mails - "what do you know about xxx? Time was irrelevant - he needed the answer now. In fairness, he was equally generous when requests were reversed.
  We have lost a great man, and he will be greatly missed. Ann and I offer our deepest sympathies to you all.

Harry Paxton."

This tribute was added by Robert Rapp on 3rd December 2015

"My friendship and work with Paul goes way back to Carnegie Tech when Paul was a young Asst. Prof. and I was a grad student serving as recitation asst. for his thermo course.  Over the decades, we worked together, for some years Paul was our Dep't Chairman, and we (Heidi and I) enjoyed many social gatherings with Paul and Dorothy.  In Jan. 2015 Heidi died (in France), and I understand the grieving that must occur for the Shewmon family.  I was happy to know and work with Paul, and I wish all the best to his family in these difficult times."

This tribute was added by Dick Weeks on 2nd December 2015

"Paul was brilliant, a true leader, and highly effective at whatever he put his mind to.  Soon after coming to Argonne, he hired about a dozen of us young engineers to help transform the applied materials program.  The program was aimed at development of fuels and materials for advanced nuclear reactors. We were incredibly fortunate to have him as our leader, mentor, teacher, and friend.  He truly cared about us and we were devoted to him.  He and Dorothy often invited us and our wives to their home, and they treated us like family.  Under his leadership, within a few years the team became recognized as one of the strongest in the field.  Paul then led both basic and applied materials research at Argonne and under his direction, unique facilities for simulating radiation damage by using accelerators combined with high-voltage electron microscopy were developed.  Paul was also responsible for hugely improving the fuel efficiency of Argonne's EBR-II experimental fast reactor.  Later, Paul headed the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, which is the highest level external advisory board at the NRC, responsible for safe design and operation of the nation's nuclear reactors.  Throughout his outstanding career, Paul was an incredibly competent and respected man among men.  His colleagues will never forget him."

This tribute was added by William Nix on 2nd December 2015

"We have lost a great materials scientist who taught the entire field how to think about diffusion and phase transformations. I always admired how Paul was able to return to the scientific bench after having been in leadership roles at NSF and Argonne for years.  Very few people have done that; he was special."

This tribute was added by semhan corapci on 2nd December 2015

"I send my deepest condolences to Shewmons

It is always saddening to see people we knew and loved slip away. Such was the case with Paul. Having lived some number of years with him during my college years, I can say I have learned a lot from him, and I must admit he was always supportive and kind.

Some of his favorite phrases that I still remember are “God help those who help themselves” and “Suscess is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration”.  I think now that being 52 I understand him somewhat more.

At least what I know now is how much I owe to Paul (and other  Shewmon members)

Although for the past 15 years we were physically apart, I am glad we could keep contact and touch some basis every so often thaks to e-mail.  

I will remember him everytime  I make cheesecake  with my couisin (which we both mastered thru him), and I will remember him riding my bike with my daughter out in the woods  and when somebody forgets the turn down the oven him asking “Is there any particular reason for this oven to be on?”

I am glad to have known him (and other Shewmon members), and I will keep remembering dearly past memories I share with him.
Goodbye Paul"

This tribute was added by Bill Shook on 1st December 2015

"I am sending our condolences on behalf of the Shook family. Paul was kind and loving to my family. He will be missed by all. Best wishes, Bill Shook"

This tribute was added by Keisuke Wakabayashi on 1st December 2015

"Please accept my sincere condolences on Paul's passing.  I cannot find any appropriate words to express my sorrow.  I miss him so much."

This tribute was added by Kaan Erdal on 1st December 2015

"Heartfelt condolences to the family and friends.

And to Paul, I’m wishing the best in his heart to accompany him forward. Farewell dad until we meet again!

Met Paul in August 1980, in Columbus, being one his and Dorothy’s exchange students. In the early days of the year I spend in his home, I simply could not comprehend his unceasing mind, hands and feet. He worked and did something useful the entire 18-20 hours every day! I had never met anyone like him.

I don’t think he slept more than 5 hours nightly, and would lie on the carpet after an evening meal once every other month or so and sleep until the morning to catch up. :-)

He would come back from his trips, for instance from Washington DC attending the national Nuclear Safety Committee meeting (he was the chair then), and walk right into the kitchen washing few mugs in the sink, consolidating leftovers in the fridge, while saying hi!

He made wine in the basement, changed the oil of his cars (soaked newspapers in the oil to start the fire in the fire place), repaired his bikes, almost always cooked and served the desert for the dinners, which featured guests few times a week. Many other house chores and more…all this besides the incredible demands of his well reputed career and frequent travels. He even found time to give me ride to places frequently, as exchange students could not drive. I just could not understand how all this could be accomplished.

Concerts with him were special also . He would enjoy them, but he always worked some engineering problem on the back of the program almost throughout the event.

He liked driving; short outings and interstate travel alike. He seemed to be always checking out the car inside and out: Sounds, configuration of equipment, fixing adjusting things.

One time I visited them for Christmas while attending college in Iowa. He asked if I wanted to drive his red VW Scirocco, he liked very much. I was new to  driving which he knew. I kept downshifting on red lights. He finally said “Kaan, these days brake pads are much less expensive then gears!”. He always made this type of jokes with messages. I missed much of them in my early days with him, as my English and my maturity was no match to catch both the joke and the point; but they were always rich with guidance.

He and Dorothy visited Turkey the following year after my return. We were on the Aegean cost enjoying the sun, beaches and historical places, when he developed serious diarrhea. I remember for a day or two he only drank Turkish coffee and ate water melons as the recommended cure by us locals, following along, not wanting to disrupt the mindset and planned activities. I also remember he would stop in souvenir shops and study the metal work carefully, nudging things with the nail of his index finger, leaving me to explain the shop keepers what this was all about. :-)

Many fond memories with Paul & Dorothy, remarkably vast hearted people, great parents to complete strangers, rare gems of life one encounters if one is fortunate.

Love & Peace forever…

Kaan & Erdal family"

This tribute was added by PENNY SHEWMON on 1st December 2015

"We send you and your family our deepest condolences in the passing of Uncle Paul.   We knew him as a brilliant man who had a passion for learning right to the end.  

He was very generous and supportive to us in so many ways.  Once, when my family faced a very serious crisis he blew me away with his response to our pain!  He also had a unique ability to encourage me with words, both verbally and written, perfectly selected and to the point.

I’ll never forget the last moment Penny and I were in his presence and his parting wink to us.  What a charming and classy gentleman he was!

Thank you Uncle Paul, for the wonderful example you were to us all!
Love, Jeff, (Penny and family)"

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This memorial is administered by:

Betty Shewmon
Dave Shewmon
Nate Shewmon
Ruth Bloom


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