John H. Marburger III, who at 39 was Stony Brook University's youngest president, and who later headed Brookhaven National Laboratory and was a science adviser to President George W. Bush, has died.

Marburger, 70, was Stony Brook's third president, serving from 1980 until 1994, overseeing expansion of its hospital and bolstering its reputation in the area of research. He was remembered Friday by his peers as an affable team-builder.

He died of cancer Thursday at his home in Port Jefferson.

Born in Staten Island and reared outside Washington, D.C., he was appointed by Bush in 2001 to serve as his science adviser and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Marburger, a registered Democrat, held the job until 2008.

"I was honored to serve with Jack at the White House," Bush said in a statement. "He was my top adviser on science and technology policy throughout my administration, and he was a joy to work with. Jack was dedicated to his field, his family, and his country. He was respected and admired by all who were privileged to know him."

Marburger returned to Stony Brook in 2009 as a physics professor and became the university's vice president for research in 2010. He retired July 1 because of his failing health.

His death came just two weeks after that of John S. Toll, his predecessor as Stony Brook president who built the school from a small SUNY component in 1965 to a major educational center. Toll died July 15 in Bethesda, Md.

Stony Brook president Samuel L. Stanley called Marburger an outstanding scientist, a clear thinker and a confident decision-maker. "He has a tremendous legacy," Stanley said. "He also had a great perspective on Stony Brook, Brookhaven and the federal government. He was charming, self-effacing and had a very good sense of humor."

Marburger was the first president of the Brookhaven Science Associates (BSA), a partnership of the State University Research Foundation on behalf of Stony Brook and the Battelle Memorial Institute. It was under his leadership that Brookhaven Science Associates won the contract from the U.S. Department of Energy to operate Brookhaven.

Marburger served as the lab's first director under the BSA, filling the job from 1998 to 2001.

During his tenure at the lab, it commissioned the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), used to simulate the conditions of the early universe.

Shirley Strum Kenny, who became Stony Brook's fourth president, was chairwoman of the board overseeing Brookhaven when Marburger was selected to lead the lab.

She said Brookhaven had lost the trust of its surrounding community because of numerous environmental problems and that it was Marburger's task to undo the damage.

"He was the perfect choice," she said. "Jack was incredible at working with the community as well as running the lab. He was a true gentleman and a scholar."

Marburger received a bachelor's in physics from Princeton University in 1962 and a doctorate in applied physics from Stanford University five years later.

He is survived by his wife, Carol; sons, John Marburger of Annandale, Va., and Alexander Marburger of Jamaica Plain, Mass.; sister, Mary Hoffman-Habig of Edgewater, Md.; and one grandson. A memorial service will be held at Stony Brook University on Sept. 16.

Latest Videos