Frederick D. Bennett, 82, APG research scientist


Frederick Dewey Bennett, a former Aberdeen Proving Ground physicist who used military science to study how volcanoes erupt, died Saturday of complications of asthma at Harford Memorial Hospital. He was 82 and lived in Havre de Grace.

After 22 years at Aberdeen, where he wrote more than 40 scientific articles, Mr. Bennett embarked upon a second career as a student of volcanoes. He used his research in heat, explosions and shock waves to detail how volcanoes explode.

"He was a very creative guy," said Bruce Marsh, a professor in the Johns Hopkins University department of earth and planetary sciences. "He had a love of science, and he would entertain any idea. He was very esoteric man, a real intellectual with a wide breadth of knowledge."

Born in Miles City, Mont., Mr. Bennett was reared in Maumee, Ohio, where his parents ran a newspaper. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Oberlin College in 1937 and earned his doctorate in physics from Pennsylvania State University in 1941.

He began his career as a physics professor at the University of New Hampshire. With the outbreak of World War II, he worked at a laboratory at Wright-Patterson Field in Dayton, Ohio, and conducted research on aircraft antennas. He received the Exceptional Civilian Service Decoration from the Department of Defense.

He was associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbanna before moving to Maryland in 1948 and heading labs at Aberdeen Proving Ground. He worked in fluid dynamics, exploding wires, high-temperature physics and gases and metals with applications to missile dynamics.

A regular contributor to scientific publications, he wrote the cover story on exploding wires for the May 1962 Scientific American.

In 1965, he received the Department of Army Research and Development Award.

He retired from Aberdeen in 1970 and joined the Peace Corps. While in Costa Rica, he observed the Poas volcano and started a lengthy study of the dynamics of volcanoes. He became a Hopkins fellow and subsequently studied how shock waves incite a volcanic eruption. He also wrote numerous scientific articles on volcanoes.

In his spare time, he played bassoon with the Goucher Symphony Orchestra. He enjoyed sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and watching birds and other waterfront animal life. He was a former president of the Harford Choral Society.

In 1939, he married Esther Louise Smith, a former headmistress of Harford Day School. The marriage ended in divorce.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Decoy Museum, 215 Giles St. in Havre de Grace.

He is survived by his wife, the former Virginia Drahan, whom he married in 1980; a son, Frederick C. Bennett of Baltimore; five daughters, Louise Bennett Russell of Westfield, N.J., Ellen Bennett Becker of Albany, N.Y., Nancy Bennett of Jamestown, R.I., and Laura Bennett and Parker Bennett, both of Havre de Grace; three stepsons, Million Daneker of Elkridge, Stephen Daneker of Abingdon and Adam Daneker of Darlington; a stepdaughter, Kirsten Anne Zalewski of China, Mich.; a brother, Dr. H. Stanley Bennett of Lake Oswego, Ore.; and six grandchildren.


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