Obituary: Harris Louis Mayer Feb. 15, 1921 – Sept. 17, 2023

On Sunday, September 17, 2023 Harris Louis Mayer, loving husband and father, passed away at the age of 102.

Harris was born on February 15, 1921 in New York to Abraham and Sadie (Reinschreiber) Mayer. He received his BS degree at NYU, MS degree from Columbia, and his PhD in physics from University of Chicago. Harris was involved in the Manhattan Project first in New York, then in Chicago, before moving to Los Alamos in 1947. 

On October 20, 1946 Harris married Rosalie Ann Holtsberg. Together they raised their three children, David, Joel, and Margo until Rosalie’s death in 1990. Harris married Frances Richey in November 1994 and became father of Frances Richey, the daughter of his wife.

Throughout his life, Harris had multiple interests and passions, in addition to his main love of physics. Harris was an avid photographer and collector of cameras.  He was also an accomplished writer and poet. He loved to tell stories and recollections of the history of Los Alamos, and of his time working in the Theoretical Division. Harris continued to consult and work at the lab well into his 80s. Harris is known for his work in Opacities and for his contributions to Project Orion. Harris wrote a comprehensive history of Los Alamos that was published at the historical society.

Harris had always been the family patriarch to the whole extended family. All his nieces and nephews looked to him for guidance and advice. He was one of the most generous people many had ever met. He always helped anyone who asked, and often when they didn’t ask or expect.

Harris was preceded in death by his wife of 44 years Rosalie, his sister Blossom, and his brother Arthur. He is survived by his wife of 29 years Frances, his four children, David, Joel, Margo and Francie, his four grandchildren, and his three great grandchildren. 

Rivera Family Funeral Home of Los Alamos encourages stories, pictures and condolences be left at Donations can be made in Harris’ name to the Columbia University Department of Physics or to the Los Alamos Jewish Center.