The Indian-American commu- nity in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area is mourning the passing of nuclear physicist
Dr T V George, one of its most cerebral members and an icon in the
Dr George, a resident of North
Potomac, Maryland, died May 10
after battling cancer for several
years. He was 77.
A native of Puthuppally,
Kottayam, he graduated from St
George’s English High School,
Puthuppally, in 1952 and then
attended Madras Christian College,
with physics as his major and mathematics and chemistry as his
minors, graduating with first class honors.
Dr George came to the United States with a tuition-free
scholarship and received his MS and PhD in electrical
engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He then worked there as an assistant professor in electrical engineering.
His PhD thesis gave the first complete experimental
proof of the Rayleigh Scattering Theory, propounded
nearly a century preceding his doctorate.
Dr George then moved to Pittsburgh as a senior engineer at the Westinghouse Research Laboratory, where he
was the first to measure the temperature of laser-pro-duced plasma by Thompson Scattering, which is now a
standard technique used in inertial fusion research.
His ultimate dream was always to work for the federal
government in Washington, DC and he achieved this
when he was employed by the Department of Energy as a
nuclear physicist in the DOE’s Office of Fusion Energy.
For 30 years until his retirement, as a DOE program
manager, Dr George conducted oversight of research to
achieve controlled thermonuclear reactions and the tech-
nology of heating fusion plasmas, especially the develop-
ment of megawatt gyrotrons in the sub-millimeter fre-
quency range and transmission/launching systems for
electron cyclotron heating.
While he had an intellectual interest in all things to do
with physics and engineering, his family and friends said
his expertise in plasma physics and nuclear fusion were
his special loves, and his work in these areas was recog-
nized with many national and international honors,
Even as he battled cancer, and according to his family,
up to the day of his death, he “continued to contribute to
these bodies of knowledge.”
They said “he believed in the value of multilateral
exchanges of scientific information and dedicated much of
his life to fostering such exchanges with many countries,
including China, Japan, and Russia.”
The community knew Dr George more for his pres-
ence in the Malayalee community in Washington, DC,
as a founder of the Kerala Association of Washington,
and a well-respected member of the Mar Gregorios
“He passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, early
on Sunday morning,” his son Dr Sageev T George said. A
viewing and funeral ceremony was scheduled for May 15
at 5 pm at the Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox
Christian Church on River Road, Potomac Maryland, after
which there would be a private internment.
In lieu of flowers, he requested that donations be made
to the American Institute for Cancer Research.
‘TV’, as he was popularly known, is survived by his wife
Achamma, and children Dr Asha M George, Shobha S
George and Sageev.
One of his closest friends, Sunny Wycliffe, a stalwart of
the Federation of Kerala Associations of North America,
told India Abroad, “We intend not to mourn for him, but
celebrate his life and legacy.”
Wycliffe recalled how “it was TV who arranged for the
first time, the then ambassador of India, the late K R
Narayanan, to speak at the Department of Energy and
inform and educate people about what India was all about
at a time when very few people, even those in federal
agencies, knew very little about India, and whatever little
information they had was usually distorted, because these
were the Cold War years.”
“Thanks to TV, hundreds of people at the Department of
Energy at the time got to know through Ambassador
Narayanan, what a living, breathing, democracy India was
and what an emerging economic and global power it was
going to be,” Wycliffe added.
Another close friend, Dr Joy Cherian, told India Abroad,
“T V George was a great supporter of the modern day
Indian-American political movement, including the
founding and developing the Indian American Forum for
“He was a visionary leader of the Indian-American com-
munity,” Dr Cherian said. “In 1983, he appeared before the
US Senate Immigration Subcommittee to argue for the
necessity of preserving family reunification provisions of
the immigration law.”
“He was an inspiring community leader who guided me
in my public service activities,” Dr Cherian added.
“He had been heroically battling cancer for many years,
but that never stopped him from contributing his expertise in nuclear physics to various organizations and students and also helping the community with his advice and
counsel,” another longtime Washington, DC community
activist Dr Sambhu N Banik said.
“He was a brilliant nuclear scientist, highly articulate,
always with a wonderful smile and such a humble disposition. A champion for any community activity,” Dr Banik
“I met TV in 1976 at a Christmas program of the Kerala
Association of Greater Washington and we’ve been inseparable friends ever since,” another close friend Robins
“Despite all his major achievements he was always lov-
ing and lovable,” Lazarus said. “He could always be found
smiling, calm and collected in every situation, however
stressful it was.”
Dr Madhavan V Pillai, a physician and a close friend of
Dr George, said, “Messages of condolence are streaming
in not only from scientific fraternity in the US, but from
Russia, China and Japan reinforcing the global image of
this nuclear physicist of the US government. But that is
only one among the many hats he wore. Whether it was
elegantly leading the social and cultural organization of
his homeland — the Kerala Association of Greater
Washington as its president — entertaining the scores of
guests from here and abroad with his hospitality and
magnificent culinary skills, passion for manicuring his
beautiful garden, adding extensions to his home as a
handyman par excellence, or volunteering to fix
automobiles with masterly precision, Dr George was a
rare icon of versatility. But this world-renowned nuclear
physicist and fusion energy expert will be mostly
remembered by his friends and relatives as an eternal
optimist, and a fountain of ceaseless energy whose zeal
for life and selfless service to those living around him
Dr T V George, second from left, seated between Dr Natwar Gandhi, left, and Dr George Zachariah of the Indian American Forum for Political Education, third from left, during a US Senate Subcommittee hearing on the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration bill February 25, 1983. The photograph was shot by the late Mr Rajan Devadas.
Dr T V George, eminent nuclear physicist and community activist,
passes into the ages. Aziz Haniffa reports on the community’s loss.
‘We intend not to mourn for him, but celebrate his life and legacy’
Dr T V George, center, with his family. He is survived by his wife Achamma, daughters Asha and Shobha, and son Sageev.
COUR TESY: SAGEEV GEORGE