In Memoriam: Tom Lonergan


by Jesse A. Pagliaro

Gerald "Tom" Lonergan, 86, of Macomb, Illinois, passed away on 5 November 2015 at McDonough District Hospital. He was born 29 June 1929 to Frank and Mary Ann Lonergan of Murrayville, Illinois.

Tom graduated from Murrayville High School and Illinois State University. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1951 and was commissioned an officer in 1952. He continued to serve in the Army Reserves until 1980, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

He and his wife Corrine raised their family in Fort McClellan, Alabama; Plainfield, Illinois; and West Liberty, Iowa. Tom worked as a health physicist at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL, 1954–1973), Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1973–1978), and University of Iowa (1978–1990).

Tom was a founding member of the Health Physics Society (HPS). He presented the paper "Radiation Safety Monitoring of a Reactor Demolition" at the third annual HPS meeting, held at the University of California, Berkeley in 1958. He was also active in his church's parish activities throughout his life, as a 20-year member of St. Paul's Parish and the Knights of Columbus.

Tom Lonergan was my great friend for 60-plus years. We met at ANL in 1954. He was at that time an Army reservist and I was a brand-new junior health physics technician. Tom rose through the ranks at ANL rapidly. He was bright, well informed, and a man of great integrity. He became a supervising health physicist and then became assistant director for the health physics department under John Novak, the director. Those days were great for learning and for working together.

Tom's priorities in life were his faith (at lunchtime he would fill his interior self with the Good Book), his wife and family, his profession, our country, and his peers. Tom was a devoted people-person; he made friends easily wherever he went, particularly in work situations. He was generous with his time and talents and was committed to his own self-improvement.

We changed roles from time to time—he as my supervisor and I as his supervisor. I observed Tom as his supervisor when we were employed in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He was knowledgeable and completed his assignments promptly. His dedication to his work was always punctuated with joy and laughter. We enjoyed working together; our respect was mutual. When Tom told you something, you knew it was true.

We continued our friendship after retirement. Tom was generous and was a good friend—I shall miss him, as will many more of his peers. Bon voyage Tom; hope to see you again!