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Memorial Tributes: Volume 7
ROBERT F. GILKESON
BY J. L. EVERETT
ROBERT F. GILKESON, engineering pioneer, leading utility executive, and civic leader, died on March 13, 1993, at the age of seventy-five.
Bob Gilkeson joined the Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO) as a cadet engineer after graduating in electrical engineering from Cornell University in 1939. Throughout World War II he served as an officer in the U.S. Army, and then he returned to Philadelphia Electric. In 1951 he was granted a leave of absence to join Westinghouse Electric Corporation, where he participated in the development, construction, and operation of the prototype nuclear propulsion system for the submarine Nautilus, the world's first nuclear naval vessel.
Upon returning to PECO in 1953, he was appointed assistant to the superintendent of generating stations, and in 1956 he became superintendent of Eddystone Generating Station, one of the nation's early supercritical steam electric generating stations. The Eddystone Station used steam conditions of 5,000 pounds per square inch and 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest ever employed commercially. During his years at Eddystone (1956–1960), Bob Gilkeson made significant contributions to the use of very high steam conditions in electric generation.
In 1961 he was elected vice-president of engineering and research at PECO, and in 1962 executive vice-president and a member of the company's board of directors. He was elected