Geoffrey King Walters

Born August 23, 1931

Geoffrey King Walters passed away on Tuesday, the 11th of February 2014 in Houston. He was 82 years old.

King was born on the 23rd August 1931 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Harriett Fuller and Robert King Walters. King grew up in Houston and graduated from San Jacinto High School in 1949. He received a B.A. in physics from Rice University in 1953 and a Ph.D. in physics in 1956 from Duke University. He married his high school sweet heart, Jeanette Long, on the 17th of June 1954 in Houston.

King was a loving and devoted husband to Jeanette and father to their three children. He knew how to successfully balance his and Jeanette’s active social life, reading Winnie-the-Pooh to the kids or pitching a tent in the backyard, and studying such subjects as ultrasensitive magnetometers in his physics lab. He loved his family and he loved his work. He and Jeanette traveled extensively abroad enjoying some wonderful adventures with their many friends and colleagues with whom they often traveled. King often enjoyed relaxing in the Texas hill country with family at Lake LBJ. And he always enjoyed a good corny joke.

King had a tremendously successful career, first in industry at Texas Instruments from 1957-1963, and then in academics and research when he joined the faculty of Rice University in 1963 as a Professor of Physics. From 1980 to 1999 he served as the chairman of the Physics Department, an Assistant Dean of Natural Sciences, and Dean of Natural Sciences. In addition to serving as a highly regarded teacher and directing 29 doctoral students, King participated very actively in the structural operations of Rice.

In 1971-72 he spent his sabbatical year working at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C. to consolidate fire safety standards. King was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1977 that took him to the physics research lab at Stanford University. In 1990 the Association of Rice Alumni recognized his innovative work as an international leader in experimental atomic, molecular, optical and surface physics with the Distinguished Alumni Award. His pioneering work on excimer lasers came to be widely used to print semiconductor chips. King’s research using an atomic accelerator formed the basis for technology used by the US military to detect nuclear submarines and in space exploration vehicles. His later research found practical application as an improved MRI device.

His service on a number of boards of research corporations was recognized by a $1 million endowment to the Rice Physics Department to establish the King Walters Research Innovation Fund to further research in the department. In 2003 King received the Gold Medal from the Association of Rice Alumni for his cumulative contributions to the University over the course of his 40+ years there.

King is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Jeanette Long Walters; daughters Terry Walters of Fort Worth and Gina Walters of Phoenix, AZ; son Jeffrey Walters and his wife Lynne of Dallas; grandchildren Christopher Walters and Allison Walters of Dallas; sister Marianne Walters of Ancaster, Ontario Canada; brother Robert (Tony) Walters and his wife Linda of Pittsburgh, PA; 5 nieces and nephews, and 6 grandnieces and grandnephews.

A memorial service is to be conducted on Saturday the 22nd of March at half-past ten o’clock in the morning at the Rice Memorial Chapel on the Rice University campus, 6100 Main Street in Houston.

In lieu of customary remembrances, contributions in King’s memory may be directed to the King Walters Research Innovation Fund at Rice University, 6100 Main Street, Houston, TX 77005; or to the Alzheimer’s Association,‎.


  • Memorial Service Saturday, March 22, 2014

Geoffrey King Walters

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Gayle Jackson

February 20, 2014

Dear Jeanette,
Please accept my condolences and those of my husband Fred. We came to know you and King from our mutual activities on the Research Corporation (RC) board. I was a newcomer in 2005, whereas King had been a valued board member and advisor to RC for many years when I first joined. I soon learned what an outstanding research scholar, teacher and fine human being he was, and how loving and devoted a couple you both were. My heart goes out to you as you deal with this loss. I hope your children and your splendid memories provide some comfort at this difficult time. Sincerely, Gayle Jackson

February 19, 2014


We are so sad for you and your family but cherish the memory of our great times with you and King at Research Corporation events of all kinds and at your home.
Stuart & Susan

Sue Barnum

February 18, 2014

Dearest Jeanette, Terry, Gina and Jeff,
I am so very sad to learn of King's passing. Your family has been part of my life for as long as I can remember and I miss you and love you so very much. I ache that I am not there to hug you and to be with you in this difficult time.
Jeanette, I wrote myself a note to call you just last week...I had been going through photographs that reminded me of you and King.
I will try to call you. I hope the phone number in my 7-year-old Houston phone book still works. Mine is 505-995-0129 here in Santa Fe.
With much love,

February 17, 2014

Jeanette and all of King's family -- We are grateful for the time we shared with King and thinking of you all,
Priscilla Huston and Sam Davis

Janet Thompson

February 17, 2014

Thoughts and prayers to you and your family Gina!

Jane McDonald

February 17, 2014

Thinking of all the family. Honored to have known him for such a long time. He was an amazing man. Love and prayers.

Debby White

February 17, 2014

Such a wonderful man with such a wonderful family! My thoughts are with you all at this time. .

Henry Garrett

February 17, 2014

He was one of my most important professors! Still remember his classes.

Angela McFarland

February 17, 2014

Dr. Walters, I truly admired you.

February 16, 2014