OBIT: Marusak, Alex Louis (October 4, 1941 - February 6, 2007)
- Alex Louis Marusak, 65, died peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday,
Feb. 6, 2007, of pancreatic cancer. Alex was born Oct. 4, 1941, the
ninth of thirteen children of Joseph William and Agnes Zmolik
Marusak. He was the lat of the thirteen children to be delivered at
home by midwife; and he was also the last of the children to be
taught the Czech language as his native tongue. He learned English
at St. John Nepomucene Catholic School in Ennis, graduating from St.
John High School in 1959. With the help of scholarships, the U.S.
Government Student Loan Program, summer jobs in carpentry courtesy
of his brothers and brothers-in-law, and part-time work in college,
Alex became highly educated, earning a PhD in Nuclear Physics
through the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National
Laboratory in 1969. After beginning his professional career at Los
Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico; and being ever a glutton
for punishment in education, he returned to school in 1972, earning
a JD degree from Duke University Law School in Durham, NC in 1975.
He then returned to Los Alamos National Laboratory. While at Los
Alamos, Alex had the good fortune to meet Nancy Jean Lanham, a
geologist and one of only a handful of female scientific staff
members then at the National Laboratory. They dated, married on June
15, 1980, and remained married at the time of Alex's death. Although
Alex never served in the military, he did spend his entire
professional life at the nuclear weapons research facility at Los
Alamos. He believed with all his heart and soul in the moral
righteousness of working in the nuclear weapons program, with
nuclear weapons being an indispensable part of the United States'
security. He was always proud of the professionalism shown by the
entire staff at Los Alamos in carrying out this often controversial
activity. The personally most satisfying moment of Alex's
professional career happened one evening in late November 1976,
following weeks of effort and of failure but also steady progress.
Alex took the combined work product of a highly talented group of
scientists including himself; sat down at the console of Serial #1,
the first and only Cray-1 supercomputer then in existence; dead-
started that magnificent $6M machine; and successfully executed a
test of the first highlevel-language scientific program ever to run
to completion on the new supercomputer. The language was, of course,
FORTRAN. Although the several Cray-1-like series of supercomputers
from Cray Research, Incorporated have been superceded by later
generations of supercomputers, the computational abilities of those
machines remain legendary to any serious student of the history of
computing. Nancy and Alex retired together from Los Alamos National
Laboratory on their eighteenth wedding anniversary, June 15, 1998.
They then left the cool climate of Las Alamos (elevation: 7200 feet)
and moved to Alex's hometown of Ennis, so that Alex could answer the
siren call of cutting down mesquite trees on their farm in the hot
Texas sun. Alex loved his wife, his many brothers and sisters and
their families, his astoundingly many other relatives around Ennis,
his "42" dominoes-playing friends from the St. John retiree group
the Golden Crusaders, and a select handful of friends in Ennis and
around the United States and the World. And finally, Alex loved
their farm. When working conditions were right, Alex would spend up
to six days a week at the farm, clearing mesquite, thinning the
woodlands, and otherwise maintaining the place. He did this for over
eight years, at peace with the world, with himself, and with the
Almighty God his Maker. Rosary for Alex will be recited at 7 p.m.
Thursday in the Keever Chapel. Mass of the Christian Burial will be
celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday in St. John Catholic Church with Rev.
Edison Vela and Deacon Dean Darnall as celebrants. Interment will
follow in St. Josephs Cemetery under the direction of J.E. Keever