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Nuclear engineer strongly supported Scouting

Tribune-Review
| Saturday, November 8, 2014 9:00 p.m

When Cliff Ostergaard went to cocktail parties, his wife said, he usually ended up off to the side quietly talking with his boss, Henry McCreary, discussing work in the nuclear engineering field.

“He was not a man to ever brag,” Joanne Ostergaard said. “He was a true Dane. He was quiet, and had a lot of common sense. He never patted himself on the back.”

Palle Clifford Ostergaard, formerly of Mt. Lebanon, died Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Friendship Village of South Hills, Upper St. Clair, after a bout with pneumonia. He was 88.

Mr. Ostergaard was born in Denmark in 1926, and his family, including parents Povl and Agda Ostergaard, settled in the Pittsburgh region. Mr. Ostergaard missed his senior year of school at Mt. Lebanon High School, becoming a radar technician for the Navy in 1945.

Mr. Ostergaard graduated with a bachelor of science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and received a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon. Just before he was hired by Westinghouse Electric Corp. in the early 1950s, the company wanted him to become a naturalized citizen, and he did.

Between 1954 and 1959, Mr. Ostergaard worked in the National Reactor Testing Facility in Idaho Falls, Idaho, helping design the reactor for the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine.

“He was very good about not talking about it,” Ostergaard said of her husband, adding that he helped train submariners to operate the new equipment.

The Ostergaards returned to Pittsburgh, where Mr. Ostergaard worked at the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratories in West Mifflin, designing propulsion systems for nuclear submarines until his 1991 retirement.

Mr. Ostergaard was active in the Boy Scouts, a Scoutmaster for Troop 284, based at the Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church in Mt. Lebanon in the 1960s and ’70s.

“He encouraged everyone,” said his daughter, Judith Shelato. “He was sort of a gentle giant. He cherished developing the character of those boys and teaching them outdoor skills.”

Mr. Ostergaard is survived by his wife, Joanne Ostergaard, of Upper St. Clair; sons, Paul Ostergaard of Pittsburgh, and Dale Ostergaard of Mt. Lebanon; daughter, Judith Shelato of Simpsonville, S.C.; seven grandchildren; and a sister, Lynn Moore of Silver Spring.

He was preceded in death by a brother, Jack Ostergaard of Bethel Park, and a sister, Joy Hunter of Upper St. Clair.

Family and friends will be received from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday in Beinhauers Funeral Home, 2828 Washington Road, Peters. A memorial service will be conducted at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in Friendship Village of South Hills, 1290 Boyce Road, Upper St. Clair. Interment will be private in the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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