Dr. Leo James Rainwater, 1975 Nobel Laureate

Receiving the Nobel Prize in 1975

Leo Jaspar Rainwater, the son of George M. and Leonella Wood Rainwater, was born in 1884. A civil engineer, he was married to Edna E. Teague in Calfornia, and the couple settled in Council, Adams Co., Idaho. In November 1918, at the height of the 1918 influenza epidemic, Leo Jaspar Rainwater died, leaving behind his wife and orphaned son, Leo James Rainwater, who was then not quite a year old.

Leo James Rainwater received a batchelor’s degree in physics in 1939 from the California Institute of Technology, followed by his doctoral degree from Columbia University in 1946. Like most American physicists, he contributed his talents to the the Manhattan Project during World War II. He eventually became a professor at Columbia teaching and doing experimental work in physics, until he retired in 1986. Dr. Rainwater also twice served as director of the university’s Nevis Cyclotron Laboratory. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1975 for his contributions in determining the asymmetrical shapes of certain atomic nuclei.

In 1942, Leo James Rainwater married Emma Louis Smith. The couple had four children: James Carleton, Robert Steven, and William George, all currently living, and Elizabeth Ann who died young. Dr. Rainwater died in 1986 in Yonkers, New York.

Biographical information from the Wikipedia.com, Encarta.com, Britanica.com, and The Nobel Foundation profiles of Leo James Rainwater. Additional information and the photograph were supplied by his son, William G. Rainwater.