Iconic Oak Ridge photographer Ed Westcott – the only photographer allowed into Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project – passed away early this morning. He was 97.
Westcott had expressed interest in the photographic arts as a teen and was given a camera during the Great Depression. Just before he turned 21, the Army Corps of Engineers sent him to Oak Ridge to photograph the construction-site process.
Westcott’s photographs documented not only the development of the atomic bomb, but ongoing research that continued after the war. They captured vivid moments in American history and have been viewed all over the world.
He worked as a photographer for the U.S. government until his retirement in 1977.
In 2013, a portrait of Westcott commissioned by his son, William, in honor of Westcott’s work during and after the war, was unveiled at the Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge.
And in 2017, U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann, who represents Oak Ridge, filed paperwork nominating Westcott for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
A statement released by Fleischmann said, “The men and women of the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge changed the world, and thanks to the incredible photography of Mr. Westcott we have a timeless record of this unique period in our country’s history.
“Mr. Westcott used his gift of photography to chronicle daily life and work in the Secret City by capturing history as it happened.
“It was my great honor and privilege to recommend him for a Presidential Medal of Freedom. I can think of no more deserving recipient than Mr. Westcott.”
Westcott’s funeral service will be Thursday, April 4, at 7 p.m. at Martins Funeral Home in Oak Ridge. The family will receive friends Thursday, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the funeral home. A graveside service is scheduled for Friday, April 5, at 11 a.m. at Oak Ridge Memorial Gardens.