Dr. Royce O. Sayer, formerly of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on May 11, 2023 in Burlington, Massachusetts.
Royce was born in Toccoa, Georgia on April 29, 1941, and was preceded in death by his parents Rev. Paul M. Sayer and Angie Sparks Sayer, and by his sister, Edith Angie Sayer.
Royce liked to joke that he grew up “all over South Carolina” where his father and mother served Baptist churches in Fair Play, Travelers Rest, Honea Path, Ridgeville, and Monetta. He graduated from Ridge Spring-Monetta High School in 1958. As a 10th grader, he ran a mile in a meet at the Clemson University track where he managed not to be lapped by the winner, John Dunkelberg. In 11th and 12th grades Royce was inspired to study physics and chemistry by a special teacher, Mrs. Abbie Mann Kneece, whose enthusiasm was contagious.
Royce graduated from Furman University with a B.S. in Physics in 1962. He had an honors scholarship, worked the university switchboard(!), and was in the U.S. Army ROTC program. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and held the office of vice president. While at Furman, he met Anne and they were married on March 21,1964.
He earned a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from the University of Tennessee in 1968. He then was on active duty at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland for two years, then a professor of physics at Furman University.
Royce and his family moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1973 where he began a 33 year career as a physicist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Royce enjoyed traveling, hiking, and running; he ran the Boston Marathon twice and ran marathons in all 50 states!
Royce is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Elizabeth Anne Mathews Sayer, son Dr. Ronald W. Sayer (and his wife Anne Worth), daughter Amy D. Sayer (and her husband Dan Young), grandchildren Evan Sayer, Nathan Sayer, Lucy Young and Owen Young.