By Bill Kisliuk

Richard L. Gay, an active UCLA Engineering alumnus who funded numerous student projects and did significant work in treatment of radioactive and other waste materials, died on March 3. He was 62.

Gay received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UCLA Engineering in 1973, and earned his Ph.D. in 1976. In 1976 Gay joined Atomics International, which later became part of Rocketdyne, Rockwell International and then Boeing. He served as technology lead for the U.S. Department of Energy’s molten salt oxidation project for mixed waste treatment, and held 13 U.S. patents related to processes for safely disposing of or rendering non-toxic radioactive and propellant wastes.

In 2002, Gay established the Richard Gay Endowment Fund for Student Projects to help students gain hands-on engineering experience through extracurricular activities. He was also active in preparing students for service in engineering careers. In 2003, Gay received the EAA Service Award for his generous contributions.

“As an alumnus, Dr. Gay believed very strongly in helping to prepare engineering students for their careers after graduation,” said William Goodin, the associate director for alumni relations at UCLA Engineering.

Goodin noted that Gay’s endowment allowed many students to enter in design-and-build contests sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and others.

“He also established certain criteria and procedures for the funding to mirror the activities that students will encounter in industry,” Goodin said. “The alumni project review committee still uses the parameters that he specified in his initial gift to determine student project funding.”

A resident of Chatsworth, Gay also was involved in charitable activities on behalf of
St.Joseph the Worker parish in Winnetka, the Nativity School in central Los Angeles and the Sisters of Notre Dame. Gay, who suffered from a lifelong affliction with the muscle disease dermatomyositis, also co-chaired the Los Angeles Myositis Support Group.

Memorial services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, March 16, at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Winnetka.