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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Right after Pearl Harbor with her new high school diploma, Mary Compton applied to TVA for a war job. She flew into Knoxville and stayed at the YWCA until she got a room at a boarding house.

When the government halted TVA construction work, Mary joined many in moving to Oak Ridge. At first, Mary continued her studies in Knoxville while working at the Y-12 Plant. After finishing the first semester, she dropped out as the commute was too time-consuming and taxing.

Meanwhile, Ted Rockwell, a recent 20-year-old graduate student from Princeton, flew into Knoxville in December 1943 to interview for a job. Soon enough, Rockwell’s path crossed Mary’s.

Recalling his thoughts back then, Rockwell said: “After that, it was just a matter of time before we were married in the Chapel on the Hill.”

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