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Ray A. Hefferlin

by Susan J. Ainsworth
May 11, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 19

Credit: Robert Jacobson
Photograph of Ray A. Hefferlin.
Credit: Robert Jacobson

Ray A. Hefferlin, 85, a notable physicist and professor of physics emeritus at Southern Adventist University, died in Collegedale, Tenn., on March 7.

Born in Paris, Hefferlin received a B.A. in physics from Pacific Union College in Angwin, Calif., in 1951 and a Ph.D. in physics from California Institute of Technology in 1955.

He then joined the faculty of Southern Adventist University, retiring in 1996 but remaining there to conduct research until his death. During his career, Hefferlin taught classes in physics, astronomy, and mathematics.

In his research, Hefferlin focused on periodic systems of small molecules, publishing more than 80 peer-reviewed articles. He also held consulting positions with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He joined ACS in 1984 and was an active member of the Chattanooga Section.

Southern Adventist University established the Ray Hefferlin Endowment Fund in 1996 to provide need-based scholarships for physics and engineering students.

Hefferlin is survived by his wife, Inelda, whom he married in 1954; daughters, Lorelei Powers, Jennifer Harrell, Heidi, and Melissa; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.


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