Bethesda, Md. — Dr. George Economos, 92, passed away Saturday, June 30, at his residence in Bethesda, Md., beside his beloved wife of almost 65 years, “Kassie.” The son of Greek immigrants James and Angelina (Matsuka) Economopoulos, the family, including four sisters, moved to Newburyport from Haverhill when he was a small child. He was a 1937 graduate of Newburyport High School.
While a B-17 “Flying Fortress” top gunner, flight engineer and Technical Sergeant during World War II, Dr. Economos was shot down in April, 1944 near Munich then interned as a POW in Stalag XVII B in Krems, Austria (yes, the infamous “Stalag 17” from the Broadway play and Academy Award-winning film). A year later, all of the Stalag XVIIB POWs were marched by their captors for 29 days toward liberation by Patton’s army; upon liberation, Dr. Economos weighed 97 lbs. After the war he received his BS in Chemistry at Northeastern University in Boston, then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his masters and doctor of science degrees (1954), where he remained as a professor for many years. He was a scientific consultant for Allen-Bradley Company (now Boeing) in Milwaukee, Wis., from 1961 – 1971.
In 1977 he moved to Bethesda, Md., when he was appointed staff scientist to the National Materials Advisory Board of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science in Washington D.C., where he remained until his retirement in 1992. His best known research for NMAB was “Preservation of Historical Records” (National Academy Press, 1986) which outlined ways the National Archives in Washington, DC, could preserve for future generations the original US Constitution and Declaration of Independence, as well as new documents of historic significance.
A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Fellow of the American Ceramic Society, Fellow of the American Society of Metals International, he was also a member of other professional organizations. He was proud to be a member of the 369th Squadron of the 306th Bombardment Group of the Eighth Air Force and a “Kriegie” of the Stalag XVIIB Association and American Ex-Prisoners of War, attending conventions of all with his wife, Kassie.