August 6, 1895-January 26, 1983
BY JEROME NAMIAS1
FRANCIS WILTON REICHELDERFER'S career spanned that exciting era when meteorology was transformed from a qualitative to an exact science, from a discipline dependent on rather simple instruments to one employing sophisticated radar, satellites, and high-speed computers. As chief of the U. S. Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) from 1938 to 1963, Reichelderfer, who had a keen sense for meteorology's future, played an important role in initiating and maintaining these developments. He was also a sympathetic administrator who helped his staff and soothed the tantrums of more belligerent colleagues. As a government official with many fires to extinguish, he yet managed to get the most out of his staff, both for official tasks and for making contributions to science.
Francis Reichelderfer was born in Harlan, Indiana, on August 6, 1895, and died in Washington, D.C., on January 26, 1983. The son of a Methodist minister, he grew up in the Midwest and enjoyed boating and water sports but showed