Cecil Howard "Sam" Lauffer, an early photographer of the U.S. atomic testing program, died in Las Vegas, NV August 2, 2014. He was 94.
After serving in WWII in the Army Signal Corp, recording the triumphant entrance of GIs into Paris, Sam embarked on a western adventure that led him to become a photographer at the Los Alamos atomic testing program in 1948. Later he moved to Livermore, Calif., and finally to Las Vegas in a 30-year career at test sites.
His before-, during- and after-shots and movies, many suspended from helicopters, were classic depictions of the tremendous blasts. These included historic tests at the Bikini Atoll, the Aleutian Islands, and the Nevada test site. Many of his classified photos are now displayed at the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas.
Sam was born on February 8, 1920 to Lloyd and Grace Lauffer, general store owners in Irwin, PA. He graduated from high school in 1938.
He met Ruby Knutson, a farm girl and schoolteacher, while skiing in Loveland Pass Colo.; they later married in Los Alamos. In 1998 they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with many family members in Santa Fe. Ruby passed away in 2011.
Sam was an avid skier, golfer, and fisherman, and led innumerable family trips to almost every major ski resort in the West. One of his favorite quotes was: "Keep your tips up!"
He is survived by his sons Rex and Randall; granddaughters Crystal Shay and Cora Lauffer; grandsons Dustin, Sam, and Vincent Lauffer; three great-grandchildren; his sisters Ruth Tubbs and Minnie Farrell; and many loving nieces and nephews.
Memorial service will take place on Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 2:00pm followed by graveside service at 4:00pm at Palm Mortuary and Memorial Park, 1325 N. Main Street Las Vegas, NV 89101.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Sam's name to Nathan Adelson Hospice (http://www.nah.org), the National Atomic Testing Museum (http://www.nationalatomictestingmuseum.org) or the Professional Ski Instructors of America (www.thesnowpros.org).