Obituary: John S. Rigden, adjunct professor of physics, 83

John Rigden

John S. Rigden, a longtime adjunct professor of physics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, died Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, of cardiac arrest at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis. He was 83.

Rigden, who joined the faculty in 2002, was an active member of the physics department, helping organize and bring in renowned speakers for the department’s colloquia series and participating in the Saturday Science lecture series.

He was instrumental in the American Institute of Physics (AIP) designating Washington University as a site of historical significance to physics.

Arthur Holly Compton, while a faculty member and chair of the physics department in the early 1920s, did experimental work in Eads Hall that resulted in his winning the Nobel Prize in physics in 1927.

After Rigden brought Compton’s lab to the AIP’s attention, the university was among the first that AIP selected for its Historic Sites Initiative. An AIP plaque was dedicated in 2004 and hangs just inside the main entrance to Eads Hall, marking the building in which Compton discovered the X-ray scattering effect.

Rigden, who was known for his ability to speak and write clearly about physics, authored six books and spoke at numerous international events on physics.

Rigden is survived by his wife of 32 years, Diana Rigden; six children, Jeffrey Rigden, Gregory (Brenda) Rigden, Jonathan (Ann) Rigden, Keith (Linda) Rigden, Karen (Thomas) Montes-de-Oca and Lawrence (Deborah) Brick; nineteen grandchildren; and eleven great-grandchildren.

A visitation will be held from 4-8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, with a service at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, both at Chapel Hill Mortuary, 10305 Big Bend Road, Kirkwood, Mo. Interment will follow at Oak Hill Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to the Center for History of Physics, One Physics Ellipse, College Park, Md., 20740.

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