Recent Obituaries
In Memoriam Archive

Harvey Bjornlie ’51

September 11, 2020, in Pacific Palisades, California.

Harvey was born in Great Falls, Montana, and attended Reed for two years before transferring to the University of Michigan, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. Upon graduation, he married Sheila Peterson of Great Falls, and they relocated to Santa Monica, where Harvey began his career with Douglas Aircraft. They spent weekends at sports car rallies and immersing themselves in the contemporary art and design culture of Los Angeles. In 1957, they moved to Pacific Palisades, where they raised their four children.

Harvey expressed himself creatively through photography, ceramics, and making sculpture from aerospace salvage. His love of art and the Southwest were combined in his passion for Navajo rugs. He spent most of his professional life at Douglas Aircraft and McDonnell Douglas in the area of multidisciplinary conceptual design. A highlight was working on the interior design of Skylab, the United States’ first space station. For that project, he moved his family to Florida, near the Kennedy Space Center, for one year. When that project completed, he returned to the West Coast, and following the 1973 downturn in the aerospace industry, he was laid off. An architect at heart, Harvey became a residential design-build contractor. When aerospace rebounded, he returned to McDonnell Douglas in Huntington Beach, commuting from Pacific Palisades until he retired in 1985.

Harvey’s professional accomplishments included awards in industrial design and registering patents in fiber optics technology. He was always concerned with the planet and the human impact on the environment. When he retired at age 55, he found fulfillment in defending wild lands and fostering future generations of stewardship. For many years, Harvey and Sheila were deeply committed o the Topanga Canyon Docents, teaching schoolchildren and the greater community about the value of nature by leading walks through Topanga State Park. In 1989, Harvey and Sheila purchased a cabin at the edge of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana. Spring through fall was spent there with family and friends, engaging in the local community, and exploring the natural and cultural history of the region. Harvey advocated for clean and healthful public lands through the Montana Environmental Information Center. He is survived by his children, Dena, Andrea, Stuart, and Kara.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2021

comments powered by Disqus