Obituary: Vernon V. Haywood, Jr.  June 29, 1950 – July 7, 2022

VERNON V. HAYWOOD, Jr. June 29, 1950 – July 7, 2022

Vernon V. Haywood, Jr. passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, July 7th in Tucson, AZ.  

Vernon, (Vern as he was known by family and friends) was born in Mesa, AZ, the only son of Imogene Vivian and Vernon V. Haywood Sr. (Col. U.S. Air Force).

His father who trained as a Tuskegee Airman, served honorably as a fighter pilot in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. As typical of military families, Vern spent much of his childhood growing up and living in locations such as the Philippines, Japan, as well as New York, and New Mexico, and experiencing the different cultures and lifestyles in his formative years.

His father’s Air Force career and experiences enhanced Vern’s interests in history, notably war documentaries. He was a member of the Los Alamos Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars and participated in their talks and seminars.

Growing up, his interest included reading, and researching various topics that interested him. Other activities included cycling, tennis, and working as a swimming instructor in Tucson. When his interest turned to automobiles, he purchased a 280 Z and became a member of the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) while living in California. His affection for cars stayed with him into his retirement.

He possessed a love of animals, especially dogs and enjoyed watching them play in the park near his home in Los Alamos. He often reminisced about “Duke” his pet dog as a child.

He graduated from Palo Verde High School in Tucson in 1968 and went on to attend the New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) where he graduated in 1970. After NMMI, he attended the University of Arizona (U of A) earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1974.

After college, he went to work for Bechtel Corporation which continued for 45 years with assignments in various organizations including engineering, project controls and startup (commissioning). His job tasks included inspections and validation of pipe installations, plant maintenance planning, and commissioning of equipment and plant systems.

Vern’s Bechtel career took him to many locations around the United States on such notable projects as:

  • San Onofre Nuclear Power Project, San Clemente, California;
  • Palo Verde Nuclear Power Project, Wintersburg, Arizona;
  • Point Beach Nuclear Power Plant, Oshkosh, Wisconsin;
  • Manchester Street Station Repowering Project, Providence, Rhode Island;
  • The Central Artery Project, Boston, Massachusetts; and finally
  • The Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico.

It was at Los Alamos that Vern retired from Bechtel on October 31, 2019 and continued on at the Laboratory with TRIAD until his final retirement on May 6, 2022.

Vern was known for his infectious smile, quick wit and his compassionate and kind spirit. He mentored many interns and early career engineers with helpful anecdotes and questioning observations.  He was a fluent and prolific writer.  His last athletic endeavor was spin class with Mary.

Vern is very dearly missed by his family, friends, and the many acquaintances he made over his long career. 

Pre-ceded in death are his mother, Imogene, father Col. Vernon V. Haywood, Sr. and wife Lizzie Haywood. 

He is survived by his loving fiancé, Mary B. Fitzsimons, her sister Elizabeth McCracken, brother-in-law Brian, nieces Sarah and Laura and brother Gregory and family (Boston, MA) as well as Carolyn, her son Jacob and his children, Axl, Zeek and Xander.

There will be a Memorial Service at The United Church of Los Alamos, 2525 Canyon Road on Saturday, Sept. 10th at 2pm. Church policy requests that attendees wear masks while inside the facility.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (, or

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