Longtime Georgia Tech researcher Jesse D. “J.D.” Walton Jr., of Atlanta, died Feb. 11, 2011, at the age of 85.

After graduating from Tech with a bachelor’s degree in ceramic engineering in 1950, Walton worked for two years at Ferro Corp. in Cleveland before returning to Atlanta in 1952 and beginning a more than 30-year career with the Engineering Experiment Station, which later would become the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

During his career at Tech, he received many awards for his research in the field of high-temperature materials and was instrumental in establishing solar energy research.

In 1963 he was made a Fellow of The American Ceramic Society. Walton continued to receive accolades following his retirement from his alma mater in 1983. He was the recipient of the Prometheus Award from the Combustion Society of Japan at the first U.S.-Japanese workshop on combustion synthesis in 1990, and was honored with the Toledo Glass & Ceramic Award in 2008, presented by ACerS’ Michigan/Northwest Ohio Section.

Born in Asheville, N.C., Walton moved to Atlanta at the age of three. He enlisted in the Navy after graduating from high school and served as a radio operator during World War II. As a student at Tech, he was a member of Beta Theta Pi, Tau Beta Pi and Alpha Chi Sigma.

His career at Tech sent him to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. He developed a love for travel and took his entire family on a monthlong trip to Europe in 2000 and through the American Southwest in 2003.

Survivors include his sons Jesse D. “Jay” Walton III, CE 79, and Bruce H. Walton, CerE 87. Memorials in Mr. Walton’s name may be made to the Georgia Tech Foundation.

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