Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Palle Clifford Ostergaard May 19, 1926 - Nov. 5, 2014 Worked on First Nuclear Submarine

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Palle Clifford Ostergaard May 19, 1926 - Nov. 5, 2014 Worked on First Nuclear Submarine

Article excerpt

Unable to discuss his work and disinclined to discuss other people, Palle Clifford Ostergaard was a man of few words but many deeds.

Mr. Ostergaard, a native of Denmark who was among the first people hired to work on the propulsion system for the world's first nuclear submarine, spent much of his career designing such systems for the U.S. Navy at Bettis Atomic Laboratories in West Mifflin, according to family members. He was forbidden to discuss his work, so many conversations centered on family life and, in particular, on his three children, said his wife, Joanne Barr Ostergaard.

"He was a true Dane," said Mrs. Ostergaard of Upper St. Clair. "He never said much, but he had a lot of common sense and when he said something, you listened."

Mr. Ostergaard died of pneumonia Wednesday. He was 88.

Born May 19, 1926, in Copenhagen, Denmark, Mr. Ostergaard was the son of the late Povl and Agda Ostergaard. After immigrating to the United States, the family settled in the Pittsburgh area and Mr. Ostergaard and his brother, Jack, attended Mt. Lebanon High School.

Rather than graduate in 1945, however, Mr. Ostergaard enlisted in the U.S. Navy and spent his senior year as a radio technician in the Pacific theater of World War II. Returning home after the war, Mr. Ostergaard found that his father had enrolled him in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, from which he graduated with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1950, Mrs. Ostergaard said.

Mr. Ostergaard then taught evening classes at Carnegie Mellon University, from which he graduated with a master's degree in the early 1950s. Westinghouse Electric Corp. quickly hired him - after he became a naturalized U.S. citizen - to help design its secret nuclear propulsion system for the SSN 571, known as the Nautilus, which was the nation's first nuclear-powered submarine, according to family members. …

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