George was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, to father George William Crabtree Jr., a mechanical engineer for International Harvester, and mother, Elizabeth Fulk Crabtree, nee Fulk, a homemaker and community service volunteer. After graduating from Proviso West High School in Hillside, Illinois, George received his B.S. from Northwestern University, M.S. from University of Washington, and Ph.D. in condensed matter physics. He spent most of his scientific career at Argonne National Laboratory, where he also met his wife, Barbara Crabtree (nee Torres). George joined Argonne as an undergraduate in 1964. He was a staff assistant during his doctoral studies and became a physicist in the Materials Science Division in 1974. He was appointed an Argonne Distinguished Fellow in 1990. Subsequently, he assumed managerial roles for the Materials Science Division, where he served as Associate Director from 1993 to 2001, Director from 2001 to 2008, and then Associate Director again from 2008 to 2012. In addition to his work at Argonne, he was a professor of physics at Northern Illinois University from 1990 to 2003 and the Energy Council Chair and Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 2010 through fall 2022.
George was a world-renowned condensed matter physicist. He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2003, George was awarded the Kamerlingh Onnes Prize (granted once every three years) for his experimental research with others on vortices in high-temperature superconductors. He received the University of Chicago Award for Distinguished Performance at Argonne twice, and the Department of Energy’s Award for Outstanding Scientific Accomplishment in Solid State Physics four times. He received an R&D 100 Award for his pioneering development of a Magnetic Flux Imaging System. He was also a charter member of ISI’s Highly Cited Researchers in Physics.
George was also a leader of cutting-edge energy innovation endeavors. In 2012, George was appointed the Director of Argonne's newly formed Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR). Under his leadership, the center's researchers have reported advances in four types of next-generation batteries beyond current lithium-ion technology. In 2018, George’s Scientific and Operational Leadership team in JCESR received the Secretary of Energy’s Achievement Award from the Department of Energy for “changing the formula for developing next-generation batteries.” George was an expert witness for the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Hearing to Examine Expanded Deployment of Grid-Scale Energy Storage. in 2019. Most recently, he received the 2022 Energy Systems Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for advancing next-generation energy systems that transition from fossil fuels to carbon-free technologies.
Despite his impressive scientific resume, George was a humble man, who never trumpeted his accomplishments and made those around him feel appreciated and at ease. He mentored many many people at the Lab throughout his 56 years at Argonne, and will be sorely missed by his numerous friends, collaborators, and protégées in the scientific community. Outside of work, George enjoyed travelling with his wife and dear friends, sharing a good glass of wine and fine food with great conversation.
George is survived by his wife Barbara; his sister, Elizabeth "Libby" Aten nee Crabtree and her husband John Aten; one stepson; one step-granddaughter; two grandchildren, many sisters-in-law; brothers-in-law; extended family members and friends who love him dearly. He is preceded in death by his son, Mark William Crabtree.
The family will receive relatives and friends for a visitation on Sunday, January 29, 2023 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Tezak Funeral Home, 1211 Plainfield Road in Joliet. The celebration of George’s life will continue on Monday, January 30, 2023 with visitation from 9:00 a.m. until time of closing prayers beginning at 10:00 a.m. in the funeral home chapel. The funeral will then drive in procession to St. Mary Immaculate Catholic Church, 15629 Illinois Rte. 59 in Plainfield, for a Mass of Christian Burial beginning at 10:30 a.m. Interment will follow and George will be laid to rest at St. Mary Immaculate Cemetery in Plainfield.
The funeral mass will be live streamed on YouTube
· Once in YouTube search on St. Mary Immaculate Parish Funeral Mass George William Crabtree
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made as gifts in George's memory to the Union of Concerned Scientists organization: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=union+of+concerned+scientists&t=iphone&ia=web