.News Update 2/20/09

Anti-Nuclear Activist Ed Grothus Dies

February 20, 2009

After a long and eventful life, anti-nuclear activist Edward Grothus passed away last Thursday in his Los Alamos home. He was 85.

Grothus was well known in his community and throughout the country for his outspokenness against Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and its activities. His ready sense of humor helped him spread his message of a nuclear-free world in the midst of a town that formed its identity around strong ties to LANL. Greg Mello, executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, remembers the dedication Grothus brought to making people aware of LANL. Mello said, "(His sense of humor) gave him a way to speak within the context of Los Alamos that would otherwise have been too tense for anybody to handle. Whenever I would see Ed, he'd say 'Greg, we're not reaching them all yet. How can we reach them better?' Ed was always working to get his point across."

Grothus moved to Los Alamos in 1949 to work at LANL developing a "better bomb." In 1969 he retired, having become increasingly aware of the horrors that nuclear weapons brought into the world. He devoted himself to his anti-nuclear activities, converting an old grocery store into a warehouse of cast-off LANL materials, which is named "The Black Hole." Mello reminisced, saying, "He wanted us to pause and look into the broken and cast-off tools of science and find a mirror there in which we could see its brokenness and our own--the beginning, perhaps, of wisdom."

Grothus' anti-nuclear activities extended into other areas as well. He bought an old church and held "critical mass" there regularly. His sense of humor got him into trouble sometimes. For instance, the FBI visited Grothus after he sent the White House cans of "Organic Plutonium," which were soup cans relabeled with mushroom clouds.

Grothus was dedicated to the motto "Semper Fabricate, Numquam Consumite," or "Always Build, Never Destroy." He thought that LANL should stop making things useful only for killing and focus instead on the future of science, directing its resources toward renewable and solar energy. His outspokenness earned him widespread attention. He was featured in international magazine and newspaper articles and radio and television stories. In 2006 he earned the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Indigenous World Uranium Summit for his work promoting a nuclear-free future. Another Grothus motto was, "One bomb is too many, no matter who has it."

Ed Grothus made an immense impression on all who knew him. Mello describes him as "One of a kind. His passing leaves a unique void in the broader Los Alamos community. More than most, Ed was irreplaceable. He goes now to join his predecessors in the community of souls who have fought indefatigably for humanity's survival in the nuclear age."

A memorial will be held Saturday, April 4 at 2:00 pm in the Duane W. Smith Auditorium of Los Alamos High School.

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