Dr. Allen Martin Hunter II

21 July, 194522 June, 2021
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Dr. Allen Martin Hunter II, age 75, of San Diego died unexpectedly on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Allen was born July 21, 1945 in Memphis, Tennessee.

A funeral service for Allen will be held Saturday, July 31, 2021 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM at El Camino Memorial - Sorrento Valley, 5600 Carroll Canyon Rd, San Diego, CA 92121, followed by a reception from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Hunter family.


  • Funeral Service

    Saturday, 31 July , 2021


  • Reception

    Saturday, 31 July , 2021


Dr. Allen Martin Hunter II

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Ben Wheeler

19 August 2021

Al hired me at Trex in 2005, and I had the privilege of working with him for a couple of years. He was a fantastic mentor, and in addition to being a great scientist, he was also a wonderful person—always kind, optimistic, and genuinely interested in the people around him and their well-being. We reconnected recently and have had great fun trading Mathematica notebooks. His enthusiasm for interesting problems was undiminished and as infectious as always. Even after all these years I can still see the familiar twinkle in his eyes that contemplating some puzzle brought him. Hard to believe he is gone, I’ll miss him.

Richard Holmes

14 August 2021

To so many, Al Hunter was a friend, an honorable man, and a person willing to sacrifice to do what is right. I recall having dinners with Al and Janet while in Socorro while working on GLINT. I recall times 15 years earlier when I worked at Western Research. I cannot recall having a negative interaction with Al. My thoughts and prayers are with Janet and Allen III. I know
that Al has gone to better place (even better than San Diego).

Best wishes always,

Rich Holmes

Robert Lundy

10 August 2021

I am fortunate to have know Allen for the past year, met him in conference and zoom call while working for Innoven Energy. He was drafting a project description for Innoven's novel breakthrough fusion program. Besides being intelligent and highly skilled, he was warm, friendly with broad interests. I learned of his intense passion for fitness, extreme hiking and mountain biking. He shared with me some of his recipes for brew making, employing a complex array of grains; they exhibited the complexity that you'd expect from a laser physicist. Along the way, we learned that we grew up 30 miles apart in small western Kansas towns. He graduated from the Air Force Academy and I graduated from West Point. Along the way, I learned mostly through others about Allen's remarkable career and accomplishments. I so looked forward to spending time with Allen in person post Covid 19, and growing our friendship. It's hard to believe he is gone.
Allen was an exceptional person and a great American.

Paul Johnson

31 July 2021

Al had a great impact on many lives, including mine.
From hiring and working, to hiking, he always set a good example.
A good friend and mentor.
He is missed dearly.

Susan Abernethy

30 July 2021

I met Al when I first came to Western Research in 1985. Despite being brilliant and one of our top scientists, he was always easy to be around and kind, and he had a terrific sense of humor. I knew I could always approach him for advice on a problem.

I have lots of great memories of Al, and kept a warm spot in my thoughts after he left our company. Coworkers and friends who remained in touch shared what Al was up to, and we were all devastated to learn of his passing.

Al Hunter will not be forgotten by me, and I pray for comfort for his family and all of us, his friends.

Gary Sullivan

29 July 2021

It was a great pleasure to work for Allen at Los Alamos Natl. Lab on the KrF laser during the 1980's. He was always available for advice and support, which even included dinner at his home graciously provided by Janet. His support of my work including written recommendations made my career at LANL possible.

Frank Stiene

27 July 2021

Noriko and I first met Al and Janet in Maui, Wailea, Pualani Estates, where we resided in our castle in 2000. Al and Janet would take evening walks and at our Lanai would strike up a conversation before they continued on the way to see how their castle, then under construction, was coming along. It wasn’t long after that the four of us started meeting and enjoying lunch together in Maui on a pretty much regular basis. They introduced us to San Diego. The lunches didn’t stop in 2005 when we relocated to San Marcos or in 2012 when we moved to Irvine, California. We took turns driving to each other’s neighborhood to enjoy lunch together.

Noriko and I can only confirm what others have said and experienced with Al. Al was thoughtful, knowledgeable, helpful, low key, modest, sincere, and most of all a true friend ready to assist in every way he possibly could. On any particular subject you didn’t just receive the headline and obvious information but rather a detailed and precise insight into the subject being pursued. Al had no need or desire to impress on you that he had a doctor title. You knew he was a special human being and a true friend. We miss our lunches together and most of all we miss Al. Our sympathy and prayers are with wife Janet, his son Allen and sister Diane.

Paula Gibson

22 July 2021

Sending my condolences to Allen’s family. Although I never met him, his sister Diane has been a friend of mine; though her I have heard a lot about Allen and his caring attitude towards his sister. He will be missed!

Candy Macy

14 July 2021

I had great pleasure working with Allen this last year while helping him with the care of his sister, Diane, who is my best friend for over fifty years! We communicated back and forth daily by email,text or phone calls. I shared old pictures of her over the years as well as many pictures from my garden flowers which he seemed to enjoy. He shared some of his projects with me which were always above my scope.
He was here to facilitate Diane's move and my son finally got to meet him. We had an enjoyable dinner together at a restaurant in Overland Park and he and Chris seemed to enjoy each other's company and interests.
We called Allen earlier in the day on that awful Tuesday so he and Diane could talk; he was very specific we call before 11am as he was going on a bike ride with a friend.
It is just unbelievable that he is gone. Not a day goes by that I think of something I would want to ask him. He is missed by my son and me. Rest in Peace Allen. My deepest regards for Janet and Allen III.
Candy Macy
Chris Macy

Skylar Bird

8 July 2021

Allen came into my life when I needed a guardian angel. Allen and Janet took me into their home one summer while I attended summer school and showed me nothing but love and compassion. I quickly found Allen would become one of my greatest confidants, mentors, and family members. He exuded joy for life and this attitude that made you want to be better. Never will I ever encounter someone who worked so hard with such passion. There isn't a day that I don't miss him, but I am so grateful to have met him. He showed me and many others how to be a proper friend, coworker, father, husband, scientist, and overall human. Love you Allen! I know you are running a tight ship up there in Heaven.

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Dr. Allen M. Hunter, II
Dr. Allen M. Hunter II, 75, of San Diego died unexpectedly June 22, 2021, at the Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. Allen was born July 21, 1945, in Memphis, Tennessee to Lottie Ellen (Armstrong) and Allen M. Hunter. He is survived by his wife, Janet, and his son Allen M. Hunter, III, both of San Diego, and his sister Diane S. Hunter of Overland Park, Kansas.

His father, now deceased, Lt. Col. Allen M. Hunter, U.S. Army, served his country during W.W. II and the Korean War. His parents divorced when Allen was eight years old, and Lottie Hunter then made a life for her two children in the small Kansas town of Hays, where she could trust neighbors to know and keep watch over all the children, an important consideration for a single working mother.

In the summer of 1958, at the age of 14, Allen took a job as a farm hand in Johnson, Kansas, and returned to this work each summer for a total of five years. He was a tractor driver, a combine operator, and an irrigator. He worked 12-hour days, so high school friends did not see him lounging around the pool during the summers. He did the work of an adult man and was paid as an adult. With his earnings he bought ham radio equipment, enough equipment to cover the surface of his desk.

Allen earned a General Class amateur radio license (K0EFK) while in high school and was highly active on CW and phone. This interest in and skill with electronic equipment and machines stayed with him throughout his life. His enthusiasm for his work at The Los Alamos National Laboratory, from 1979-1983, was in part due to the state-of-the-art computer network available for his use.

Allen graduated from Hays High School in Hays, Kansas, in 1963. Even then, his classmates recognized his quest for excellence in all his endeavors, and especially for the study of physics and mathematics. A few classmates had even tried his home brew, which they described as “pretty good.” Allen pursued this hobby occasionally until 2006, sometimes hosting tasting parties at his home. Before one such tasting party, his inventory of brews available for sampling included four lager-style beers and twelve types of ale. He wanted to make a brew better than he could buy. He brewed these at his home, and many, seeing his skill and interest in brewing, suggested he start a brewery. More recently, he became an accomplished barista and visitors to his home gladly gave him their orders for a latte, an americano, a cappuccino, or some other espresso drink.

College for Allen was the Air Force Academy; his major was physics. He was assigned to the 16th Squadron and was a member of the 9th class to graduate from the Academy. After graduation in 1967, Allen studied physics at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, earning a M.S. degree in 1968.

Also, while at OSU he met Janet Endicott, a Columbus high school Latin and English teacher, and they married on June 8, 1968. They shared a love of gourmet cooking, movies, books, interesting words and their usage, walks, history, and travel. Allen and Janet, however, did not share all interests; Allen’s interest in ham radio had shifted to music systems, including tuners, receivers, speakers, amplifiers, etc. He liked loud rock music. At the Air Force Academy, Friday nights might include listening to We Gotta Get Out of this Place by The Animals (1965), but Janet might prefer to listen to Johnny Mercer’s Autumn Leaves. They respected each other’s differences, an important reason for a marriage that endured for 53 years. Details in this obituary of Allen’s work as a physicist and his contributions to science are taken from Allen’s resume, his written work history, or from other scientists.

After receiving his M.S. degree and acquiring a wife, Allen continued his graduate studies in pursuit of a Ph.D., but he never returned to the OSU Columbus campus to attend classes. Instead, he completed courses required for the PhD degree remotely (teleconferencing) while stationed at the Aerospace Research Laboratories, Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio during the years 1969-1972.

At the Research Laboratories, he performed theoretical and experimental research on plasma diagnostics and transport properties. During that period, his group determined the emission coefficient, viscosity, and electrical and thermal conductivities of arc plasma using Ar, Xe, Kr, and air. He developed diagnostic techniques based on optical and mechanical probes. He computationally simulated the performance of both induction and d.c. arcs. He invented a mathematical inversion method for obtaining local fluid and radiative properties of turbulent plasma using indirect emission data.

His son Allen M. Hunter, III, was born on September 7, 1972. He took a month’s vacation to stay at home with his new son and to prepare for doctoral exams, which he passed with top marks in May 1973.

In 1973, the young family was assigned to Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The time at Kirtland (1973-1976) was very productive. Allen would go to bed at around 8 pm, get up at 4 am and put in four hours working on his doctoral dissertation before walking to the Air Force Weapons Laboratory at Kirtland AFB, where he worked as a Lab Physicist.

He managed a five-man theoretical physics group that performed research on high energy lasers. They investigated the kinetics of CO2, CO, DF/ CO2, DF, and HF lasers pumped variously by electron beams, electrical discharges, chemical reactions, gas-dynamic expansion, and fast-burn nuclear reactors. As a group effort they constructed the laser systems code, DENTAL, which simulated system performance physically – not parametrically – from laser cavity to target interaction. He also performed calculations related to DF rotational relaxation, electron distribution functions, electric discharges, laser resonators, and turbulent mixing. In his spare time, he began, researched, and completed a doctoral dissertation on refractive diagnostic techniques.

Capt. Hunter’s final Air Force assignment (1976-1979) was at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) where he was an Assistant Professor. He constructed and taught graduate courses in laser physics, stochastic and nonlinear processes, thermal physics, solid state physics, geometrical optics, physical optics, plasma physics, and molecular physics. He was thesis advisor for nine M.S. and two Ph.D. candidates. In addition, he performed research on the carbon dioxide mode-medium interaction and KrF laser discharges, kinetics, and optics. Dr. Hunter has published more than 45 scientific papers. Dr. Hunter left the Air Force in 1979 because he wanted to pursue science as a civilian. After he resigned from the regular Air Force, he joined the Air Force Reserves and soon attained the rank of Major. However, his work at Los Alamos left him no time to serve in the Reserves, so he resigned from the Air Force again.

Captain Hunter was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal for his contributions to laser research.
In 1979, he took a job at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He analyzed CO2 laser kinetics, x-ray lasers, electron distribution functions for e-beam pumped plasma and the effects of Amplified Spontaneous Emission (ASE) on laser amplifiers and fusion targets. Dr. Hunter was leader of the Advanced Laser Development Group at Los Alamos from 1982 until 1983. He directed technology development to demonstrate that the 20 kJ KrF Large Aperture Module could be built quickly and cost effectively, and that the aperture combination technique could be implemented with simple optical elements and control systems.

In 1983, he moved to San Diego where he was Vice President and Systems Design Group Manager at Western Research Corporation. He was responsible for designing, building, and testing high energy excimer and Raman laser systems. He stayed with the company – though it underwent several name changes – for nearly 30 years, retiring from Trex Enterprises in 2010.

In 1998, while at Trex Enterprises, he left San Diego to head a research project in Socorro, New Mexico, and then in 1998 relocated to Maui, Hawaii, where he led various research and development projects before his return in 2005 to Trex headquarters in San Diego, where he was Vice President of Operations.
During the years 1999 and 2000, Al and Janet built a house on Maui. The house had a brewery and a media room. It was a dream for Al to brew ales and lagers, but he needed to brew in the early mornings when the weather was cooler. Although the climate on Maui was not conducive to proper brewing, Al nevertheless persevered and always had beer on tap for friends who might stop for a brew. He stocked his media room with DVDs of the latest movies and his collection now has about 200 DVDs. In the early 2000s, internet streaming was much too slow to be practical; buffering could be interminable. Netflix had a subscription service that mailed DVDs to customers, but the DVDs were slow to reach Maui, and it was not until about 2007 that they began streaming movies, hence the desire to own DVDs. The new house had an office and a garden for Janet as well as a large master suite with a spacious bathroom.

During the years on Maui (1999-2007), the Hunters made new friends and welcomed family members to vacation on Maui. Allen III visited his parents on Maui for Thanksgiving in 1999 and decided to stay. He continued his work as an Internet programmer for a few years with an Internet start-up company before joining one of the Trex subsidiaries as a program manager and software engineer. He worked at Trex for 16 years and now is a software engineer at Daylight Solutions.

In retirement, Al was an avid hiker and bicyclist, and balanced his time between exercise and exploring fields of mathematics that he had not had the opportunity to explore before retirement.

For the last several years he had been working with a start-up company to develop a new energy system. He was advising the founder of the company, who is an old friend, and he was also mentoring young scientists at the company. It was his habit to work at his computer or read for a few hours before breakfast, having first prepared a pot of coffee to enjoy. He was always an early riser, starting his day at 4 am or 5 am. After breakfast he would bike or hike, take a walk with Janet, or maybe work at his computer.

Friends remember his wonderful sense of humor and his kindness. His son recalled that his dad was “upbeat, optimistic, caring, and funny. He always had a dad joke. He was brilliant, efficient and hard working. He was also one of the most moral, ethical, and decent human beings I’ve ever known. He had an iron will. When he decided he needed to do something, he did it, and he did it immediately.”
In lieu of flowers, please donate to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), The San Diego Food Bank, or the San Diego Humane Society.

On the day of his death, June 22, 2021, the following books were on his desk: Numerical Modeling in Applied Physics and Astrophysics by Richard L. Bowers and James R. Wilson; Laser Beam Shaping/Theory and Techniques, edited by Fred M. Dickey; Introduction to Fourier Optics, Joseph W. Goodman; Computational Fourier Optics/A MATHLAB Tutorial, David Voelz.


Summary of Some of Al Hunter’s Contributions by his Friend, Bob Hunter

I was first exposed to Al’s work at Kirtland AFB (the Air Force Weapons Lab) in 1972. He was then modelling the various lasers in terms of kinetics and optical extraction so as to assess their value to the Air Force for scaling to large size. First, let me tell you why I held Al in such high regard and why he commanded so much respect in the work he did and directed. Al had several distinguishing characteristics that were the hallmark of the groups that performed work with him. He was extremely persistent in pursuit of the best technology. He remained a world authority in areas of optical propagation and laser kinetics and extraction for over some 40 years. He was able to inspire creative work to meet harsh deadlines – at the peak of the most intense efforts, groups were working over 110 hours per week. This confidence in his efforts was based on a combination of extraordinary technical and organizational abilities coupled with his persistence and focus. Recently, as aspects of this work had become relevant for rapid, low-cost energy production, Al had been performing program formulation and detailed technical kinetics and optical calculations for an ICF based approach in conjunction with Innoven Energy. He had been mentoring a new crop of young engineers to carry out this work. They are in awe of his technical abilities, attention to detail and inspirational mentoring. This work will have as much impact as his work on high power lasers for the U.S. military.

Let me outline of the major work that Al did and the consequences of that work. The rare-gas halide lasers (KrF, XeCl, XeF, ArF, etc.) were supported by, discovered, and became of substantial interest to, the U.S. military in 1975. Al and Thomas Johnson assembled the definitive kinetics and extraction code from various experimental data for this class of laser and their publication became the definitive guide to rare gas halide kinetics. Two of these lasers (KrF and ArF) achieved prominence as the preeminent light sources for the exposure tools utilized to pattern semiconductor chips and are used worldwide. For the military applications, Al became an expert in scaling this class of laser to large pulse energies for both applications to Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) and the large-scale applications for ballistic missile defense and antisatellite defense. When Al joined Los Alamos in 1982, he oversaw the design and operation of large-scale electron beam pump KrF lasers (LAM) that is the largest energy KrF laser built today. He generated the designs and hardware outline of the Aurora Laser System based on multiplex pulse compression. At LANL, as P-16 Group Leader, his work was known to Dr. Gregory Canavan and Dr. George Keyworth, Head of Physics Division.

Al joined me at Western Research in 1983 in order to rapidly develop large pulse excimer lasers for military applications. During his time there, the brightest pulse laser ever built was demonstrated in 1987 based on utilizing Raman beam combining and large excimer modules. This was the first laser brighter than a nuclear weapon. He generated, sold and ran large programs as well as carried out detailed kinetic calculations on how to line narrow the XeCl laser and scale it to maximum size. His work at Los Alamos had a direct bearing on the decision by the Reagan Administration to pursue what became known as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Dr. Keyworth became President Reagan’s Science Advisor and was given the responsibility of deciding whether or not to pursue defensive systems for ballistic missile defense in order to halt the ongoing USSR nuclear weapons buildup. Recently, Dr. Keyworth stated that he went ahead with the decision based in large measure on the potential of the work Al and others in his group were carrying out to develop the technology for large ground-based lasers.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Al oversaw programs and demonstrated several aspects of the large system architecture in the field. These included atmospheric Raman beam combination to deliver powerful pulse energies to space mirrors for destruction of enemy rockets, atmospheric compensation to remove the effects of atmospheric turbulence on the beams, and the development of very high-resolution imaging for observation of the effects on a target. His group also demonstrated the first successful noncooperative compensation, tracking and illumination of a space target.

He will be greatly missed, and his legacy will be carried on by those that worked with him and learned from him.


Price Kagey Remembers Hiking and Biking and Also Working with Allen Hunter


I met Allen in 1985 when his son, Allen III, said to my son, Henry P III, “your dad should meet my dad; they both are physics geeks, target shooters, math guys, etc.”. I met Allen (Al), and despite some of Al’s often hundred hours plus per week workloads by 1989 we were handloading and target shooting at the police range on Sunday mornings. By 1994 we were biking into Ocean Beach for breakfasts at the Zanzibar, riding up the dreaded Torrey Pines Grade (I beat Al once in 1995 when I was 55 and he 50 – the last time!), and watching action movies while sipping Al’s awesome home-brewed Oatmeal Stout. Al was as much a perfectionist in brewing as he was in basically all other endeavors. The Hunters and Kageys departed San Diego in the 1997/8 period.; The Kageys to Northern VA and the Hunters to Maui, HI. Al visited us in VA, and we spent a week with the Hunters in Hawaii. Both families returned to San Diego in the 2005/6 period.

In 2007 we began weekly hikes in the Fortuna’s and hiked and tent camped in Yosemite in 2008/9/10. In 2012, we, with three others, set out to hike 80 miles of the John Muir Trail: the goal, ascending Mt Whitney. After the first day, old injuries caused my left knee to further shred, and after 7 days I had to escape to civilization. Al demanded that he accompany me out and gave up his chance to climb Whitney, a climb for which we had invested 5+ months of practice hikes. Al said, “I’m tired, fed up with dehydrated food, and I really need a good breakfast!”; the breakfast in Lone Pines was phenomenal. Al wasn’t tired; he was making sure that I made it out.

That hike, hikes in Mission Trails, and camping hikes up Telescope Peak and Mt San Jacinto, sharing a 2-person tent with Al, demonstrated his tremendous natural athleticism and drive which carried over from his time as a track star in his Kansas High School and later at the USAF Academy, and his tendency to snore. It also provided a picture of Al, an amazingly talented and well-rounded person. Al gave hiking and biking, like all other endeavors, his all. Al, with a will of steel, was focused and quite competitive, but much of the time, he was competing against himself; always looking for a faster time or a more elegant solution. Al, a natural leader who led by example, was extremely competent, and self-confident.

In 2012, Al persuaded me to buy a carbon road bike, and by 2016, we had done well over 500 rides (Al’s estimate) up the coast to Del Mar, Solano Beach, Encinitas, Leucadia, Carlsbad, Oceanside, and occasionally Camp Pendleton. In 2013, Al, John Ross, and I, decided to bike from Monterrey to Santa Barbara, 270 miles over a 4 ½ day period. During much of that ride, John and I tracked Al by his distant taillight. We socialized during our rest stops and lunch breaks and enjoyed Al’s sense of humor, trip observations, many physics discussions, and Al’s as-usual accurate estimates of altitude gain, and distances both traveled and to our motel and food. Big Sur is beautiful but is a grind on 2 wheels.

In 2014, when I needed an optimal way to compare and evaluate some experimental results with a physics model’s predictions, I asked Al for ideas. Al, as usual, had a clever approach, and during that process, he found that he enjoyed and became quite adept at applying functional programming techniques to a variety of problems. Al continued developing sophisticated, ever faster schemes for various applications, and has provided significant modeling help to a long-time former coworker working on an improved power source, to me, to Henry, and to others, all while continuing to excel at hiking and road and mountain biking.

in addition to many hikes in the Fortuna’s, we did multiple hikes in other local mountains, typically with assorted members of the “Caltech Crew” (Brett, Paul, Bruce, and Eric,), with whom Al had worked at Western Research, and its later incorporations, TTC, and Trex. Brett and Paul hiked with Al on his first 1-day 5-Peak Challenge. In September, Al talked me into doing a 1-day 5-Peak Challenge, #2 for Al, and a fun hike for both of us.

In the mid-afternoon of June 22nd, the day before our next hike in the Fortuna’s (over 400 by Al’s count), Henry called and said that Al had been in a bicycling accident. I was prepared to give Al a quick call about a hike delay, then Henry said, “It’s bad….”. My stomach dropped and I had a period of disbelief, and shock. Thirty-five years of activities with my closest friend had just ended. Al’s unique personality, his combination of technical and athletic skills, integrity, and basic decency probably cannot be duplicated. He was, as we said in the 82nd Airborne (about only the few), a “stud duck”.

Lyn and I will both miss Al, standing at our front door at 8 AM, in his trademark tan and yellow plaid shirt with a big smile and ready and eager to hike the Fortuna’s. This is a great loss to his family, his many friends, the community, and the country. All of us will miss him greatly.

Henry Price Kagey II