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Guy Tarnstrom ’65

February 28, 2017, in Concord, Massachusetts, of Parkinson’s disease.

A man of many interests, Guy loved classical music and folk dancing, carved Celtic crosses, and played the trombone with gusto. He performed in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, made good beer and bad wine, and had season tickets to the Boston Symphony. He took his kids hiking and camping, and loved reading them bedside stories.

He was born in Portland to Carl and Marjorie Tarnstrom. His early years were spent in southern California before his family settled in Blythe, California, where his father taught for many years. Guy was chosen for the prestigious NASA Math Camp as a high school junior and won science awards for a prototype computer.

At Reed, he studied physics and enjoyed the participatory education of immersion, involvement, speaking up, and challenging authority. Guy was awarded a NASA Fellowship to attend graduate school at the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska, where he met his wife, Dianne. The couple lived in Guy’s two-room, Alaskan-style cabin (without running water) for two years before he received his PhD in radio astronomy in 1971.

He joined MIT/Lincoln Lab as a research academic and did postdoc work at Sterrenwacht Observatory in Utrecht, the Netherlands, where his first child, Christopher, was born. His daughter Annelise was born when he was a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Oulu in Finland, and after he became a research astronomer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, his third child, Kari, arrived. When he left academia to work on the staff at Lincoln Lab, his fourth child, Kristin, joined the family. Guy and his family moved to Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, in 1980 and spent three tours there, amassing many friends and memories. Upon returning to Concord, Guy worked at Lincoln Lab until his retirement in 2011, chalking up 33 years and a rocking chair. He was a sentimental soul who treasured friends and family, and took much pride in his work.

Guy’s son, Christopher Tarnstrom ’95, died in 2013. Guy is survived by his wife and three children.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2017

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