Friday, June 14, 2024

Remembering Clyde Jupiter (1928-2024)

I recently learned about the death of an old friend and colleague, Clyde Jupiter.  I have since read several moving tributes to his remarkable life and career (the American Nuclear Society published a short summary of his career, and I have read some longer tributes that are not publicly available), and have been reflecting on my long-time association with him.


The more I've thought about it, the more I realize that he had a very strong influence on my early career.  It probably wasn't obvious to me at the time, but as I've been thinking about my memories of him, I realize that my work with him probably was a major factor in opening doors for me that led to the career I've had.  This has moved me to once again publish something in this blog (which I know I haven't done for a long time).


I first got active in the American Nuclear Society (ANS) in the early 1970s.  I won't recount all the details here, but I did a survey of women in the Society (there weren't many at the time) and co-organized a technical session on the subject, along with Gail de Planque.  That got me noticed a little, but I had not yet learned how to "promote" myself, so my involvement was minor.  I had met Clyde Jupiter, perhaps at some local ANS Section events, so we knew each other.

Still, I was surprised when, sometime in 1977, he approached me and said that he would be serving as the Technical Program Committee (TPC) Chair for the 1978 Winter Conference in Washington, DC, and asked me if I would like to serve as Assistant TPC Chair.  The Chair of the entire conference was Ray Durante, who I also knew from local ANS Section events.  


I was surprised that he selected me for the position, because I was relatively unknown in the Society, but I was also very honored, so I worked hard.  I recall that he was a pleasure to work with.  He was always very thoughtful, he was open to my suggestions, and knew how to get things done.  He also knew his way around the Society and the industry, and could identify sessions we should try to develop, and people we should reach out to in order to develop them.  

I learned a lot from working with him, and I think the meeting was successful.  We must have looked a little unusual at the time, as there were few Blacks or women in the Society--and in the field--so perhaps we were noticed in more ways than one.   I like to think that the fact that the meeting was successful was what people ultimately remembered.  In any case, with a successful meeting behind me, I was subsequently invited to serve on other committees and in other positions in the Society, and ultimately served as ANS President (2001-2).  While no one activity or accomplishment resulted in my serving as ANS President, certainly, the early visibility I got from serving as Assistant Technical Program Chair was a key factor in my career path at ANS, and my ANS work, in turn, gave me visibility in the nuclear field.

Following that activity, I kept in touch with Clyde for many years.  Our paths continued to cross at ANS national and local section meetings.  We even briefly overlapped at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which I joined in 1985, shortly before he left to start the Jupiter Corporation.  A modest man,  he never spoke of the barriers he broke in the course of his career, and I only learned much later that he was one of the first Black students to attend Notre Dame


As with many people who cross our paths during our lives, at the time, I never thought about which associations were important to my career.  In recent years, I have come to recognize the important role a few people have played in my life.  Clyde is one of those people.  I am grateful to be one of the many people he mentored and helped.  He will be sorely missed. 



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