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John A. Comstock ’70

October 13, 2019, on Marrowstone Island, Washington.

A Portland native, John served in the U.S. Navy as a sonar technician before starting at Reed, where he obtained a degree in mathematics and biology in 1970. He wrote his thesis, “The Toxicity of Zinc to Fish,” with Prof. Martin Pall [biology 1967–72] advising. He earned a master’s degree in cell and molecular biology from San Francisco State University.

A nature and science enthusiast, John worked as a biomedical engineer in cancer research, molecular evolution, and bird genetics. He served for 13 years at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, retiring as chief biomedical engineer in 2010.

An outdoorsman, John’s activities included rock climbing, backpacking, and bicycling. He was a woodworker and played the mandolin. Embracing the principle of “do it yourself,” he always had a project. He generously contributed time and energy to community efforts in Washington, including the founding of the Biota of Marrowstone Island project and the renovation of the Fort Flagler State Park Interpretive Trail. Above all else, John was an avid birder and enthusiastically shared his lifelong passion with everyone he met.

He is survived by his wife, Jo Ann Comstock; his daughter, Robin Murray; his mother, Enid Verbon; and his brother, Steve Comstock.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2020

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