George Knoll Werner, 93, died October 21, 2015 at home surrounded by his family.
George Knoll Werner was born on April 3, 1922 in Lincoln, Nebraska to Harvey Oscar and Elsie Ernest Werner. He grew up in Lincoln, the youngest of four childern of a college professor. Summer vacations were spent visiting agricultural stations in western Nebraska and occasionally traveling and camping in the Rocky Mountain Park area. He learned tinsmithing from his Werner grandfather who was skilled in many crafts. All the Werner children were expected to graduate from high school and college at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. George chose to study engineering and spent a lifetime investigating, tinkering and exploring various conditions and puzzles that interested him.
After completing his degree in Electrical Engineering, George joined the gathering workforce in the secret city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee which was tasked with refining the Uranium for the first atomic bombs. There he met and married his wife of 69 years, Lessie Phillips. They were married on September 28, 1946 and lived all of their married life in Oak Ridge, except for a year in Chicago. A daughter, Helen, and a son, Roger, were born in the 1950s.
George worked at all three of the Oak Ridge National Labs: Y-12, X-10, and K-25. These were run by Tennessee Eastman, Union Carbide, Martin Marietta and, most recently, Consolidated Nuclear Security. His work for the labs focussed on optics and spectroscopy, and he was part of the group that built the first helium neon LASER in the southeast United States. In the 60s, he and other lab friends started and ran a glass blowing shop that specialized in repairing LASERs and fabricating scientific glass equipment.
Since retiring he enjoyed traveling, hiking, classical music, working around the house at various projects, working with Recording for the Blind, and especially meeting with the Friday ORICL lecture series. He loved working on logical puzzles and working with hand tools. In retirement he studied properties of integer right triangles in considerable depth. He could pretty much fix anything and would hone any necessary wood joints, using hand tools, until they fit exactly. George and Lessie were also charter members of the local Parkinson's support group when it started 6 years ago.
George is survived by his wife, Lessie Phillips Werner, daughter, Helen Boggs (Daryl), and son Roger H. Werner. He was predeceased by his parents, sisters Kathryn Stern and Eunice Knapp, and brother Jack Werner.
A memorial service will be held at the United Church (Chapel on the Hill) at 2 pm, Thursday, October 29, 2015. A reception at the church will follow the service. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the local Parkinson's support group, "PK Hope is Alive" c/o Karen Sampsell, 117 Newhaven Rd, Oak Ridge TN 37830; the United Church or the charity of your choice.
Online messages may be left for the family at
Services entrusted to Martin Oak Ridge Funeral Home