Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Mike Bradley ()
Communications and External Relations


Former ORNL Deputy Director Culler Dies

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Oct. 1, 2004 — Floyd Culler, deputy director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory from 1970 to 1977, died Wednesday, Sept. 29, in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. He was 81.

Culler, president of the Electric Power Research Institute from 1978 to 1988, received the Department of Energy's Ernest O. Lawrence Memorial Award in 1965. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1974 and also was a fellow of the American Institute of Chemists (1968), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (1981), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1981).

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers presented Culler the Robert E. Wilson Award in 1972, and he received the 1969 Atoms for Peace Award of the Ford Motor Company Fund. In 1977 the American Nuclear Society gave him a special award for his outstanding work in chemical technology to recycle fuel and honored him with its 25th Anniversary Exceptional Service Award in 1980.

After coming to Oak Ridge in 1943 from Johns Hopkins University, Culler worked at the Y-12 Plant until accepting a post at ORNL in 1947 as design engineer for nuclear-fuel recycling plants. He became section chief and later director of the Chemical Technology Division.

Culler managed the lab's development of solvent extraction and other processes for recovery of uranium, plutonium, and fission products from spent nuclear fuels. His team established nuclear-fuel reprocessing techniques used worldwide. He served as lab associate director for nuclear technology in 1964 before being named laboratory deputy director. Culler also was acting laboratory director in 1973-74 after the retirement of Alvin Weinberg. In 1977, he moved to California to become president of EPRI, the technical resource of the U.S. electric utility industry.

Often described as a "muddy boots type," Culler enjoyed working directly with craftsmen and with the people of Oak Ridge. Active in the community, he chaired the Oak Ridge Regional Planning Commission, which was responsible for the alphabetical naming of the city's streets and helped govern the community before it was incorporated.

Culler also met his wife of 52 years, Della Hopper, in Oak Ridge. She died in 1995.

He is survived by his son, Floyd Culler III, Irvine, Calif.; granddaughters Amanda and Meredith Culler, also of Irvine; sister Doris Summers, Frederick, Md.; and brother Carl Culler, Fort Myers, Fla.

A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m., Monday Oct. 4, at El Toro Memorial Park, Lake Forest, Calif. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the American Museum of Science and Energy, 300 S. Tulane Ave., Oak Ridge, Tenn., 37830.