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George G. Barnes ’58

November 9, 2017, in Palo Alto, California.

George was born on Christmas Day in Boston. In the late ’40s, his family moved to California. At Reed, he wrote his thesis, “A Resonance Method for Determining the Speed of Sound in Liquids,” with Prof. Ken Davis [physics 1948–80] advising.

“George was my best friend, classmate, and onetime roommate at Reed, and was my best man at our wedding,” says Richard A. Cellarius ’58. “He was what I would call a ‘desert rat,’ who spent every possible weekend exploring the California desert and Death Valley.  He spent his Reed summers working at the China Lake Naval Ordnance Test Station at Ridgecrest, California, only 100 miles away from Death Valley National Park.”

George earned three master’s degrees, in mechanical engineering and statistics from UCLA and Stanford, respectively, and later in life, in business administration from Santa Clara University. He worked at Stanford Research Institute, SCI, Mellonics, and Litton Computer Services. George enjoyed mountaineering and was a volunteer with the local unit of the Mountain Rescue Association. A fixture at Off-Highway Vehicle Commission meetings, he chaired the Off-Road Vehicle Task Force for the Sierra Club and earned an award for that work. Seldom speaking himself, he marshalled votes and got others to raise key issues. For 30 years, he led the Sierra Club annual meeting with Death Valley National Park staff, sharing his latest observations on bighorn sheep, burros, wilderness proposals, and bats. George’s knowledge of the desert around Death Valley was put to the test in the 1980s when wilderness and possible expansions of Death Valley were being considered. He took on the task of preparing a range of alternatives with realistic boundaries, and the best of outcomes became law in 1994. He is survived by his wife, Joanne; his sons, Gregory Barnes ’93 and Keith Barnes; and sister, Lynne Barnes Small ’61.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2018

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