Robert L Kustom age 85 of Dixon died Sunday July 28, 2019 at CGH Medical Center in Sterling.  He was born July 11, 1934 in Chicago the son of Louis and Mary (Henek) Kuskowski.  He had worked at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont from 1958 until his retirement in 2018.  

Robert earned his Bachelor and Master Degrees in Electrical Engineering from IIT in Chicago and his PhD from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  View his additional professional biography at

He was a member of St Luke Episcopal Church in Dixon.  He was a patron of the arts, enjoyed fishing and the outdoors, and woodworking.

Robert married Dolores Smith Payette March 31, 1986 in Chicago.  He is preceded in death by his parents, sister Mary Lou Namowicz and step grandson Michael Strutz.

Robert is survived by his wife Dolores, children Brittan (Rebecca) Kustom of Crofton, MD, Todd (Julie) Kustom of Panama City, FL, Jill (Gary) Smith of Stow, MA, grandchildren Madison Kustom, Robert Kustom, Samantha (Casey) Flanagan, Jacqueline Smith, Spencer Smith and Tessa Smith; stepchildren Joseph (Alicia) Payette of Shannon, IL, Mary Concepion of Las Vegas, NV, Denise Kilbourne of Converse, TX, Sharon Payette of Tinley Park, IL, Michelle (Anton) Graff of Yorkville, IL, Rebecca (Michael Nilles) Payette of Charlotte, NC, Matthew Payette of Tucson, AZ, Luke (Traci) Payette of Naperville, IL, step grandchildren Daniel Payette, Aaron Payette, Connor Concepcion, Christopher (Kristin) Kilbourne, Mariah Kilbourne, Steven (Yana) Strutz, Jessica Graff, Justin Graff, Laura Graff, Anneke Nilles, Katrina Nilles, Madelin Payette, Luke Payette Jr and four step great grandchildren.

At Robert’s request his body has been donated for scientific study through the Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois.  Memorial donations in the donors choice can be made to organizations of Robert’s interests, in the arts or science.  A private family service will be held at a later date.    Arrangements by the Jones Funeral Home in Dixon, IL.  


Dr. Robert Kustom, Distinguished Argonne Scientist, Passes Away, It is with heavy heart we note the passing of Dr. Robert Kustom, founding member and past Acting Director of the Accelerator Systems Division and an integral part of accelerator achievements at Argonne. Bob's career at Argonne spanned over 60 years as an employee and as an

Argonne Associate, during which he served in numerous leadership capacities and earned a world-wide reputation for his groundbreaking work in accelerator radio-frequency (rf) systems. His outstanding technical expertise and sound judgement were sought by accelerator facilities around the world, and his role as a mentor to new engineers and physicists helped launch many careers. He will be sorely missed.

Robert Kustom received a B.S. (1956) and M.S. (1958) in electrical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering (1969) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Bob came to Argonne in 1958 from an industrial research firm.

His long, illustrious career at Argonne included positions as Electrical Engineer; Associate Group Leader of the Electrical Engineering and Electronics Group; Group Leader of the Zero Gradient Synchrotron Operations Group; Associate Director of the Accelerator Research Facilities Division (ARFD); Director of the ARFD and, at the same time, Manager of Accelerator Systems for the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source; Associate Project Director of the 2-GeV Electron Accelerator Project; Acting Division Director of the newly-formed Accelerator Systems Division, responsible for forming the Division that would design, build, and commission the storage ring for what became the Advanced Photon Source (APS); and then Group Leader of the ASD Radio Frequency (RF) Group in the APS.

Bob also devoted part of his time to teaching and supervising graduate students at the University of Wisconsin as an Adjunct Professor since 1985.

As noted in a letter nominating him for the University of Chicago Distinguished Performance Award, “In the period from 1968 to 1970, his experiment on electrical breakdown in vacuum and the published results are still a classic and are frequently used for reference. Calculations based on electron emission from electron protrusions have provided the best theoretical comparison to actual data. At the same time, he was performing Monte Carlo calculations to predict the particle fluxes in a high energy particle beam which used magnetic dipole and quadrupole focusing elements and two rf particle separators. The beam was built on these calculations and operated successfully.

“During 1969-1976, he developed the traveling wave particle separator concept using dielectric loaded waveguides and the microwave discharge chamber for detection of high energy charged particles. He was one of the principal designers of the GEM CW electron microtron.

“From 1984 on, he was one of the original members of the design team of the APS synchrotron and storage ring. Later as the RF Group Leader, he designed, tested, and planned the rf systems for the APS synchrotron and storage ring. His theoretical design of the single-cell storage ring cavity and theoretical predictions of the high-order modes were subsequently verified by meticulous measurements and successfully damped by the absorbers he designed. With this successful design, one of the most worrisome problems of the APS was solved.

“In addition to his distinguished scientific and engineering contributions, Dr. Kustom's major management activities have provided the Laboratory many times over with distinguished leadership. For instance, as Associate Director of the Accelerator Research Facilities Division or Division Director of the Accelerator Research Division, he supervised research and development of the Intense Pulse Neutron Source Accelerator, the Heavy Ion Fusion Accelerator System, and ANL Plasma Engineering Experimental Tokamak, the Superconducting Magnet Development, etc.

“After all, it was because Argonne had a few people like Bob that formed the Advanced Photon Source nucleus and did the conceptual design that brought this big prize to Argonne National Laboratory.”

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