University of Texas
Charles Hemphill Fay
January 29, 1910–December 16, 1987



Charles Hemphill Fay with second wife Mary Smith, 1975


Charles Hemphill Fay with second wife Mary Smith, 1975. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

FAY, CHARLES HEMPHILL (1910–1987). Charles Hemphill Fay, physicist, was born on January 29, 1910, in Austin, Texas, to Edwin Whitfiield Fay and Lucy Belle (Hemphill) Fay. Charles's father, Edwin Fay (18656–1920), was a philologist and Professor of Latin at the University of Texas at Austin. Charles attended the Whitis School, a private school in Austin, until he completed the sixth grade, at which time the Whitis school closed. He then attended and graduated from John T. Allen Junior High School and Austin High School. He majored in physics at the University of Texas at Austin and was a Junior-5, one of only five juniors elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year. He graduated in 1930 with highest honors and in 1931 earned his master's degree, also at the University of Texas. His thesis topic was, "Some Properties of Composite Rochelle Salt Crystals." Eugene Feenberg, celebrated theoretical nuclear physicist later mention that while at UT he was greatly impressed by two fellow students, Noyes Smith and Charles Fay.

On May 17, 1931, in Austin, Fay married Dorothy Louise Wild, daughter of Charles and Johana Wild. Dorothy was born September 15, 1908 in Austin, Texas. She graduated from Austin High School. She had received a masters degree in 1931in clothing from the home economics department of the University of Texas; Charles and Dorothy had two children, Lucy Ann and Charles. Dorothy's sister, Marie Wild, married John Mathias Kuehne, celebrated professor of physics at the University of Texas at Austin.

Fay was a Whiting Fellow at Harvard University (1932–34) and a Thayer Scholar (1934–35); in 1936, he received his PhD in theoretical physics from Harvard. His thesis was entitled, I. The Scattering of Fast Neutrons by Heavy Nuclei. II. A Refinement of the Heisenberg Theory of Ferromagnetism.. He remained at Harvard as an assistant from 1936 to 1937, then moved to the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was an instructor (1937–38) and an assistant professor and the head of the physics department (1938–41). He was elected to the Society of Sigma Xi in 1938. Fay joined the Geophysical Laboratory of Shell Oil Company in Houston in 1941 and remained with Shell until his retirement from the Exploration and Production Research Laboratory in February 1969. At that time his title was Consultant, Physics.


His specialty was the design of seismometers, seismic amplifiers, and well instruments. He is named on twenty-one United States Patents and is the sole inventor on eleven of these. He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Geophysical Union, the American Physical Society, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, and the Society of Petroleum Engineers. He was also a member of the Texas Academy of Science,, the Houston Philosophical Society, and the St. Bartholomew Chapter of the Huguenot Society of Texas.








After the death of his wife, Dorothy in April 25, 1969, Fay married Mary Smith on September 4, 1969, at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Houston.

MARY SMITH FAY died Friday, July 7, 2000. She was born August 27, 1915, in White County, Illinois, the daughter of William Logan  and Myrtle Hunsinger Smith. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees from  the University of Illinois. After teaching in Crossville, IL. Community  High School, Mary worked during World War II at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor; then, Monmouth Memorial Hospital in Long  Branch, New Jersey, as superintendent. Moving to Houston in 1948, she  joined the Exploration and Produced Research Laboratory of Shell Oil  Company. She was supervisor, of technical information, when she retired  in 1969. Mrs. Fay was certified by the Board for Certification of  Genealogists as a Certified Genealogist and served as a trustee from  1983 until 1995. In 1997, she was elected a Fellow in the American  Society of Genealogists, the highest accolade in Genealogy. She served  as the court-appointed genealogist in the Howard Hughes probate case.

She has published many articles in genealogical and historical journals  and has authored three books. In 1985, the Texas State Genealogical  Society awarded her the honor of Fellow. In 1998, Mrs. Fay was appointed  to the Board of the City of Houston Public Library. Mrs. Fay served as  regent of Ann Poage Chapter, DAR, and has worked with the Children of  the American Revolution on a local, state, and national level since  1960. In 1984 she was elected Honorary Vice President National (for  life) of the United States Daughters of 1812 after serving as president  of the Captain James Asbury Tait Chapter in Houston and as state  president. She is a member of the Daniel Braman Chapter, Daughters of  the American Colonists; the Colonial Dames of America, Chapter VIII; and  of several historical and genealogical organizations, including  currently serving as a vice-president of the Clayton Library Friends. In  1989, Mary Fay was elected to the National Board for Women in Medicine  of the Medical College of Pennsylvania. She was an active communicant of  St. Stephen s Episcopal Church and has served as Service Assistant.

Preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Charles H. Fay, she is survived by  her sister Ellen Smith Brown of Warren, Texas; step-daughter Lucy Fay  Reich and her husband Joseph C. Reich of Houston, step-son Dr. Charles  H. Fay, Jr. and his wife Joellen of Highland Park, NJ; grandchildren:  Kathryn Stepanski and her husband Patrick L. Stepanski of Magnolia,  Texas; Karen Kalberer of Manchester, NH; Sarah Rosenblum and her husband  Dr. David Rosenblum of Irvine, CA; and Josiah W. Fay of Los Angeles; and  great-grandchildren, Cory, Caitlyn and Carla Stepanski, and Taylor  Doherty. Friends are invited to visitation with the family on Sunday,  July 9, 2000 from 4 until 7 o clock in the evening at Geo. H. Lewis  & Sons, 1010 Bering Dr. Funeral services will be conducted on  Monday, July 10, 2000 at 10 o clock in the morning at St. Stephen s  Episcopal Church, 1805 West Alabama, with The Rev. Helen Havens, The  Rev. Sally Fox, and The Rev. James Stockton officiating. Interment will  follow in Historical Oakwood Cemetery in Austin, Texas.



Fay died on December 16, 1987, and was buried at the Oakwood Cemetery in Austin.










Charles Hemphill Fay Photo and Document Album

Charles Hemphill Fay, Austin High School Yearbook, The Comet, Junior Class, 1929
Charles Hemphill Fay, 1930 University of Texas Yearbook, The Cactus, Junior Class
Charles Hemphill Fay, 1929 UT yearbook, The Cactus, Senior Class

Dorothy Louise Wild (need help identifying) , Austin High School yearbook, The Comet, 1924
Dorothy Louise Wild, UT yearbook, The Cactus, 1927

Charles Hemphill Fay and Noyes D. Smith Jr , Austin High School Yearbook, The Comet, 1925


Noyes D. Smith Jr and Charles Hemphill Fay, Austin High School Yearbook, The Comet, 1926
Noyes D. Smith Jr and Charles Hemphill Fay, 1928 UT yearbook, The Cactus, Both studied physics at UT.


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