Obituary Listings

Robert William Peelle

January 13, 1929 November 19, 2018
Robert William Peelle
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Obituary for Robert William Peelle

Robert William Peelle died, at 89.8 years old, in his home on November 19, 2018 due to complica-tions of congestive heart failure. Bob is fondly remembered for his dry wit and sense of humor; his warm, engaging smile; and as a beloved family member. A memorial service will be held at the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, 809 Oak Ridge Turnpike, at 1:30pm on Sunday February 17, 2019. Reception following service. Bob is survived by his wife of 63 years, Elizabeth Brown Peelle, his two daughters Evelyn (Gary Jerauld) of Houston TX and Annette (Eric) Sargent of Birmingham MI, and grandson William Sar-gent. Loved ones include the children of his late brother Harold (Faithe) Peelle; David (Baiba) Peelle, Kathy Douds, Karyl (Tony) Petruccione, Doug (Darla) Peelle, Karen (Tim) Stone, Tina (Bill) Onion, and Derek Peelle. Also beloved are the wife and children of his late brother-in-law Richard (Marina) Brown; Lara Brown (John Wakeman) and Marco Brown (Ellen Rowe). Born in Toledo, Ohio on January 13, 1929 to William Ruskin Peelle and Nellie “Marie” Mitchell Peelle. Bob enjoyed playing ball with neighborhood kids and his father, played the flute and piano, had a paper route, loved reading, and excelled in school. He graduated high school at 16 and en-tered the University of Rochester in NY where he received a bachelor’s degree in Physics. Bob earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Princeton University. Moving to Oak Ridge in 1954, he began work in nuclear physics at Oak Ridge National Laboratory while still completing his thesis on Ex-perimental Nuclear Documentation (1958). Bob and Beth met in Oak Ridge and married in 1955 at Beth’s alma mater Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio. At home in Oak Ridge; they grew their family, pursued professional in-terests, and became deeply involved in the social, political and environmental life of their commu-nity. They have been members of Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church for over 55 years. Bob retired from his position as Head of Nuclear Data Measurement and Evaluation at ORNL in 1991 due to declining health. He was widely recognized in his field for the accuracy and signifi-cance of his team’s research data into reactor design, shielding, and other nuclear applications from ORELA (Oak Ridge Electron Linear Accelerator). Bob received a liver transplant in December 1992 and after a lengthy recovery, enjoyed 26 bonus years with family and continued pursuing his many interests. Throughout his life Bob Peelle enjoyed photography, birding, tennis, classical music, and the natu-ral world. He photographed family, grand landscapes and tiny ephemeral spring wildflowers during dozens of trips to National Parks and wilderness areas across the USA and in the woods near his home. Even as his mobility declined, necessitating the use of a walker, Bob preferred walking where he could “see something”! With his trademark modesty, Bob would deny being good at any sport. Yet he joined and greatly enjoyed playing on various teams with work friends in bowling, volleyball, and basketball. His fa-vorite sport, by far, was tennis which he began playing in college and continued playing into the early 1980’s in the Oak Ridge Summer Tennis Leagues. Bob was deeply committed to public service and volunteered innumerable hours to improve and protect his community and the environment. Combining his scientific knowledge, analytic yet thoughtful approach, and listening skills, Bob worked towards constructive solutions in complex and often contentious situations. He was the first Oak Ridge resident elected to the Roane County Commission where he represented Oak Hills, Oliver Springs and Orchard View for 22 years, worked to desegregate Oak Ridge in the 1950’s, was an officer and worked on the interracial Community Relations Council, helped found and worked with Tenn. Citizens for Wilderness Plan-ning on strip mine regulation and reclamation, chaired the Health and Safety Committee of the Clinch River Monitored Retrievable Storage Task Force, was elected to the Oak Ridge Charter Commission in 2003, was the first chairperson of the DOE Site Specific Advisory Board for mercu-ry clean-up in East Fork Poplar Creek, and worked on the TN State Health Department: Oak Ridge Health Agreement Studies Panel to examine local environmental contamination and health impacts. Bob has been recognized with numerous community service awards and honors. The family requests memorial contributions, in lieu of flowers, to The Nature Conservancy’s Tennessee Chapter ( or Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties (ADFAC, PO Box 5953, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-5953) Please visit the online guestbook at to sign and share memories.

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Previous Events

Memorial Service




1:30 PM 2/17/2019 1:30:00 PM
Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church

809 Oak Ridge Turnpike
Oak Ridge, TN 37830

Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church
809 Oak Ridge Turnpike Oak Ridge 37830 TN
United States

Memorial Contribution

Nature Conservancy's Tennessee Chapter

ADFAC (Aid to Distressed Families Appalachian Counties

PO Box 5953
Oak Ridge, TN 37830-5953

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