Obituary: Richard E. Honnell May 13, 1929 – Sept. 4, 2021

Richard “Dick” Eugene Honnell, age 92, passed away peacefully on September 4, 2021 from natural causes.

The youngest of three siblings, Richard was born on May 13, 1929 in Visalia, California to Charles Guy and Lilian Myrtle Honnell.  A childhood survivor of polio, he went on to become a standout football and track and field athlete at Visalia Union High School. Richard attended San Jose State University and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in chemistry, while serving in the California National Guard. 

He began his career in the early 50’s with Titanium Metals Corporation, in Henderson, Nevada, where, in a manner prescient of his later career at Los Alamos, he would climb to the top of the chemical processing towers during breaks and watch the mushroom clouds rise above the Nevada desert from nuclear tests a hundred miles away.  He subsequently took a position with General Electric, in Cincinnati, OH, where he was part of a secret government project to develop a nuclear-powered jet aircraft engine.  He quipped, “There were two technical challenges — to make the engine light enough to get off the ground, and to provide enough shielding to get the pilot back alive.  We solved both problems, but neither at the same time.”  It was at GE that he met the love of his life, Annabelle L. McCloskey, and they were wed in Guardian Angels Church in Mt. Washington, Cincinnati in 1959.

In 1968 Richard accepted a position at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, in New Mexico, where he spent the remainder of his career.  At Los Alamos he worked in CMB, GMX, and MST divisions and was awarded several patents as well as an R&D 100 Award.  An avid wing shooter, he carved beautiful yet functional wooden decoys, and spent many a fall day duck hunting with his children and friends in the San Luis Valley.

In retirement he was active in the Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club, and chaired the shotgun section for many years.  He is survived by his four children Kevin Honnell (Diana), Brian Honnell (Pat Jones), Emily Irwin (Rance), and Ethan Honnell (Shannon Seitz); four grandchildren, Victoria, Miranda, Azure, and Sanger Honnell, and nieces Lisa (Greg) Willis and Susan Honnell. He was predeceased by his wife Annabelle, parents Charles Guy Honnell, Sr. and Lilian Myrtle (Finley) Honnell, his brother Charles Guy Honnell, Jr. and sister Virginia Louise Dula. 

Internment, along side of his wife Annabelle, will take place at Guaje Pines Cemetery, Los Alamos, NM at a private family memorial.