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Obituaries, June - Dec. 2000

Obituaries, June - Dec. 2000


[Note: in cases where donations may be made to New Mexico Tech, the address is: Advancement Office, New Mexico Tech, 801 Leroy Place, Socorro, NM 87801.]

Ernest Blessing, age 97, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Aug. 13, 2000 in Salt Lake City of natural causes. Ernest was born on april 9, 1903, in Schnectady, New York to William D. and Ella Williamson Blessing. He earned his bachelor's degree in mining engineering at the New Mexico School of Mines in 1927. He also earned a master's degree in metallurgy from the University of Utah in 1937. He had a 64-year career as a mining engineer and surveyor, working in Coya, Chile, Japan, New York, California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Utah, for various firms and state and federal governments. Ernest retired as a regional mining supervisor for the U. S. Geological Survey after 35 years of service.

Ernest is survived by his wife of 60 years, Rhea, of Salt Lake City. Other survivors are his daughter Elizabeth and her husband, Paul Riemann, of Bountiful, Utah; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Dr. Howard Byerly, age 70, passed away on Sept. 12, 2000. He was born on Jan. 17, 1930, in Chicago. Howard's longtime ambition was to teach math and science. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Oregon at Eugene, and also took many classes at New Mexico Tech (in 1978 and 1979) and at Pacific Lutheran University in Washington state. He taught at Belen High School and at schools in Oregon. In 1983, he earned a Ph.D. in secondary education at Pacific Western University. Some of his graduate work was done at New Mexico Tech under the late Dr. Cliff Keizer, professor of chemistry. Byerley then worked as an analyst for 11 years at Boeing, retiring in 1995. He was a longtime resident of Tukwila, Wash.

Kyle Dillard, Jr., 79, of Belen, N.M, died on March 8, 2000.

He was born to Kyle Dillard, Sr. and Irene McKinney Dillard in Breckenridge, Texas, in 1920. He was a member of the Golf Road Church of Christ in Belen. He was a longtime machine shop foreman for New Mexico Tech and retired in 1983. During this time, he was involved in many government projects, including the building of the first Sidewinder Missile for the U.S. government. Dillard served in the U.S. Army in Italy during World War II.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Dorothy (Dot); his daughters, Jan House and Denese Auge; his son, Kyle III; grandchildren, Jeff House, Steven House, Carrie Auge, David Auge and Melissa Auge, all of Belen, and Bradley Dillard of San Diego, Calif; his nephew, Curtis DuPresit of Houston, Texas; and many special friends.

A memorial service was held on March 10. Donations may be made in his memory to the "Children's Playground Fund" in care of Golf Road Church, 14 Golf Road, Belen, NM 87002.

Dr. Robert Hjelming, age 61, died of natural causes while scuba diving on July 29, 2000. Bob, a well-known astrophysicist with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, had served as an adjunct physics professor at New Mexico Tech since 1977 and was advisor to Tech's Newman Association, an organization for Catholic college students, from 1986 to 1995. He advised many graduate students and taught a number of courses in radio astronomy at Tech.

Bob was born on Dec. 21, 1938, in Gary, Ind., and graduated from high school in Caldwell, Idaho. He received his bachelors', masters', and doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago.

Bob began working for NRAO in 1968 in Charlottesville, Va., following three years as a professor at Case Western Reserve University. During his stint in Virginia, Bob worked with the Green Bank Interferometer, a prototype of the Very Large Array (VLA). Bob's pioneering work on radio emissions from X-ray objects led to his being considered a world expert on binary star systems in which one star is a black hole or neutron star. He was also a pioneer in making the VLA usable to a wide range of astronomers from many subfields, rather than an instrument used by a few specialists.

Bob and his wife Carol have lived in Socorro since 1976. Carol is a Tech alumna, having earned her bachelor of general studies in 1980 and a bachelor of science in chemistry in 1982. She was an employee of the New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, until her retirement in April 1999.

Bob was an active member of the Catholic Church in Socorro. In addition to Carol, Bob is survived by five children: Michael of Shelby, N.C.; Marya Sena of Albuquerque, N.M.; Thomas of Wheaton, Ill., Peter of Lancaster, Ca., and Theresa of Portland, Ore. He is also survived by four grandchildren: Eric, Andrew, Kelsey, and Nicholas.

Richard Kimball Lyon, age 63, passed away on Oct. 11, 1999, after a courageous seven-month battle with lymphoma. Born in Ross, Calif., Lyon earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics at New Mexico Tech in 1957. He was the owner/ principal of The Lyon Group in Pacific Palisades, Calif. He spent more than 30 years as a market and financial feasibility consultant on leisure-oriented real estate projects worldwide. He served clients such as the Walt Disney Co., LEGO, MCA, NBC, Warner/ Six Flags, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and San Diego Zoo, and the Smithsonian.

He is survived by his wife, Lisa; two sons, Lars, and Conrad; his mother, Iris; and two sisters, Mary and Julie.

Paul Newman (70, BS, geology) passed away on June 9, 2000, at his home in Menlo Park, CA. Paul lost his life to pancreatic cancer after a several-month fight that included state-of-the-art treatment at Stanford University, where he was currently employed. He was a Vietnam vet, having served in the U.S. Navy on the USS Oriskany during the same time that Sen. John McCain was aboard. Paul loved life to the fullest and had many friends, several from his days at New Mexico Tech. He will be missed by all who knew him.

LeRoy J. Olson, Jr.
, age 26, of Ferry Boat Lane, New Braunfels, Texas, and former Raton resident, passed away Tuesday, July 4, 2000, at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, Texas. He was working in Austin at the time of his death.

Leroy J. Olson, Jr. was born Tuesday, May 28, 1974, to LeRoy Olson and Mary Wilkinson Olson in Raton, where he graduated from Raton High School. He was a 1997 graduate of New Mexico Tech, with a bachelor of science degree in geology. LeRoy was a sensitive soul who loved to learn, and his hobby was taking pictures. He won many awards with his pictures. After participating in national competitions, he won a trip to Chicago. In high school, he was active in 4-H and had many projects sent to the state fair where they won awards.

LeRoy was honored by being selected for Who's Who in American High Schools for three years. Being trilingual and a world traveler, LeRoy loved to learn about the cultures of different peoples. LeRoy taught English in Korea, and when he returned to the United States, he continued to learn about the Korean people as well as other Asian cultures. LeRoy's future was to include beginning work on a masters' degree from New Mexico State University in geological engineering and including foreign languages

He was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Edwin and Opal Olson of Farley, NM, and his maternal grandparents, Lawrence and Martha Wilkinson of Carlsbad.

Survivors include his parents, LeRoy and Mary Olson of New Braunfels, Texas, one brother, Lawrence Olson of New Braunfels, one sister, Caroline Olson of Albuquerque, and several aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Memorial contributions may be made to American Diabetes Association, 525 San Pedro NE, Suite 101, Albuquerque, NM, 87108.

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