Dr. Paul Numerof, 90; worked on Manhattan Project

Dr. Paul Numerof

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Dr. Paul Numerof, a scientist and nuclear medicine pioneer who worked on the Manhattan Project, died Sunday, Jan. 12 at McKnight Place Assisted Living in St. Louis, where he had resided for the past year.  He had lived the prior 21 years in Vail, Colo. He had moved to the McKnight facility to be close to his daughter, Rita.

Born May 7, 1922 to Russian Jewish immigrants Jack and Sophie Numerof, Dr. Numerof developed an early interest in chemistry. He excelled at Temple University. 

With the outbreak of World War II, Dr. Numerof volunteered for the U.S. Army.  With high scores in many scientific exams, he was invited to become part of the top secret Manhattan Project, joining 2,500 other scientists in Los Alamos, N.M. He led a team to develop a process to purify uranium. At the end of the war, Dr. Numerof, then 23, resumed his studies at the Carnegie Institute of Technology where he earned his doctorate.  He later began a distinguished career at E. R. Squibb and Sons, where he headed the company’s newly founded Division of Nuclear Medicine.

Dr. Numerof’s first wife, the former Claire Slachowitz, died in 1980.  He later married Betty Luscombe, who died in 2006. Survivors include his brother Sidney Numerof (Roselle); his and Claire’s children, Rita Numerof Abrams (Michael) of St. Louis; Norm (Karen) Numerof; Betty’s children, Candy Byers, Jim (Dianne) Byers; John (Patrice) Byers and nine grandchildren.

Contributions to the Dr. Paul Numerof Memorial Fund at the Los Alamos Historical Society, P.O. Box 43, Los Alamos, N.M. 87544, or the Dr. Paul Numerof Memorial Fund at B’nai Vail, P.O. Box 6068, Vail, Colo. 81658.