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Obituaries, July 2006 - Feb. 2007

Obituaries, July 2006 - Feb. 2007


[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.]

Richard W. Baxter, Jr. age 53, passed away peacefully at home on February 3, 2007, after a courageous battle with cancer.

He was born in Big Spring, Texas to Georgia and Richard W. Baxter Sr. on March 1, 1954. Rich grew up in Socorro, New Mexico, where he attended New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and earned three degrees: bachelor's degrees in math (1977) and computer science (1981), followed by a master's degree in computer science in 1985. He moved to San Jose, California in 1987, where he worked for Lockheed Martin since 1988. He married Laurie Baxter on April 24, 2002, in San Diego, California.
He was a beloved husband to Laurie, a loving father to Karolyn, a devoted brother to Laura and Randy and grandfather to Mikayla. Rich was a well loved man with a sharp wit who loved to travel the world. His ashes will be spread in Sydney Bay, Australia and and the ocean around Hawaii later this year.

Waldemere "Wally" Bejnar
, an ardent sportsman, hunter, fisherman, and tennis player, died peacefully in his home in Socorro on Friday, Feb. 9.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Tripp Room of Skeen Library from 2 to 3 p.m., followed by a gathering at Wally and Kitty’s home.

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be given to Science Olympiad. They may be addressed to Advancement Office, New Mexico Tech, 801 Leroy Place, Socorro, N.M. 87801.

Born Wladyslaw John Bejanr on Feb. 7, 1920 in Hamtramck, the Polish barrio in Detroit, he learned Russian, German, and English in his father’s music and appliance store. He graduated from Polish National Alliance Academy in Cambridge Springs, Penn., where classes were all in Polish. He earned his B. S. in geology from the University of Michigan, before entering the Navy as an ensign. He served in the European theater and participated in the Normandy landings in 1944. After VE Day, he was assigned to the Strategic Bombing Survey, where he interviewed civilian conscript laborers.

In 1946, he married Katharine Chase Marble, a geologist, in Washington, D.C. He earned his master’s degree at the University of Michigan, followed by his Ph.D. at the University of Arizona. In 1950, under State Department aegis, he went to Nigeria for two years to do economic geological mapping, taking his wife and two young sons. While the family was there, his third child, a daughter, was born and he discovered some of the world’s largest tin nuggets.

In 1952, he came to Socorro to teach geology and mineralogy at New Mexico Tech. Two more children were born to the Bejnars in Socorro. In 1954, Wally opened his office as a consulting geologist and hydrologist at 113 Bernard St. As part of his consulting practice, he flew all over the state, getting his commercial pilot’s license in 1956. He was active in the New Mexico Geological Society, the Socorro Lions’ Club, and the Civil Air Patrol. He ran a Boy Scout Explorer troop, and, together with Dr. John Aiken, founded the Church of the Awakening.

In 1965, Bejnar headed the new Earth Sciences Division at New Mexico Highlands University, in Las Vegas. He taught there for 14 years. He was a member of the Geological Society of America, the American Institute of Professional Geologists, and a life member of the New Mexico Academy of Science. He chaired the regional science fair, developed an interest in lapidary, and sponsored the Highlands Gem Club.

In 1979, Wally and Kitty returned to Socorro. Wally built a lapidary shop and produced cut and polished stones. He ran New Mexico Tech’s Science Olympiad for several years in the late 1980s.

Wally Bejnar loved to trade, whether it was rocks, Navajo rugs, or his garden produce. He continued his lifelong passion for hunting and fishing and developed his skill as a gardener. He fished widely from New York to New Zealand to Alaska. He was past president of the Socorro Tennis Association and was active in tournament play. He is survived by his wife, five children, and five grandchildren.
Glenn Brueland

Glenn Roy Brueland
passed away on Jan. 9, 2006, at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He received two degrees in physics from New Mexico Tech: a bachelor's degree in 1967 and a master's degree in 1969. Following graduation, he served as an officer in the United States Navy until he was medically retired in the early 1970s. Glenn then had an active career in aerospace engineering and was employed at Wyle Laboratories at China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center until the time of his death. He underwent lung volume reduction surgery in November, but lived only seven more weeks.

Glenn's family recalled him as a kind and gentle person with a brilliant mind. He loved Star Trek, classical music, and all things sci-fi. R. Judy Davis

Russell Judy Davis III
, age 78, died on March 15, 2006, at his home, of cancer. Born in Corsicana, Texas to Russell J. Davis Jr. and Birdie Cotton Davis, he spent most of his childhood in Hobbs, New Mexico. His sister was Janie Novella. As a senior at Texas A&M, he was drafted and trained as a medic. After World War II, he completed his Petroleum Engineering degree at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in 1952. That same year, he married Jean Bond Davis. They moved from state to state to different oil fields in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Wyoming for Kewanee Oil. In 1968, he moved with his family to Tulsa to work for Samson Resources. His children graduated from Memorial High and O.U. and Judy worked for NBI in Tulsa until 2005.

He is survived by his wife, Jean Bond Davis, his daughter Laurel Denise (Luke Bakiras), his two sons Russell J. IV (Kristin Bugge) and David Brian (Melika Maacha), and his five grandchildren.

James T. Everheart, a member of the Class of 1956, passed away in January 2007. He graduated with two bachelor's degrees from the School of Mines, one in mining engineering and one in geology. No further information was available.

Elwood "Woody" Eutermoser passed away on May 20, 2005. After serving as a naval aviator and receiving wings of gold at the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Tex., Woody attended the New Mexico School of Mines, receiving his bachelor's degree in metallurgical engineering in 1950. He then worked for the Aluminium Company of America until his retirement in 1987. He is survived by his wife, Lorena; daughter, Donna and her husband; son, Jeff, and five grandchildren.

Juan "Artie" Gallegos passed away on Wednesday, February 7, 2007 in Phoenix, AZ. He passed surrounded by his loving family after an extended illness. Artie was born on March 28, 1950 in El Porvenir, NM. He graduated from New Mexico Tech in 1974 with a bachelor of arts degree in history. He is survived by his sons Nicholas, Manuel, and Daniel Gallegos, mother, Christina Duran, brothers Cruz and Henry Gallegos, sisters Louisa Lopez and Janet Lucero, and many others.

Ralph Marshall McGehee, professor emeritus of computer science and research mathematician emeritus, passed away on Aug. 2, 2005. McGehee was born in 1921 in Magnolia, Miss. He earned his master's degree and Ph.D. in both mathematics and electrical engineering at North Carolina State University. He taught at New Mexico Tech from 1962 to 1984, starting as a mathematics professor and moving to the computer science department as it was founded.

Paul D. Merillat
passed away on May 12, 2006, at the age of 56. Paul earned two computer science degrees at New Mexico Tech: a bachelor's degree in 1972 and a master's degree in 1975. He was director of Information Systems Development Center 9500 at Sandia National Labs, where he retired in 2003. He and his wife Susan lived in Albuquerque. Eugene O'Connor

Eugene O'Connor
, world traveler, metallurgist, and longtime supporter of New Mexico Tech, passed away on the morning of July 31, 2006.

Gene was born in Syracuse, N.Y. in 1924. He served in the Army Air Corps and was activated just as World War II came to a close. After the service, he sought out a college where he could study metallurgy, with mild climate being one of his chief criteria. The search brought him and his wife Milly to the New Mexico School of Mines in 1948. The School of Mines dress code, consisting of denim blue jeans and flannel shirts, cinched the deal.

While Gene was earning his degree, Milly worked in Socorro's Land Office. By his graduation in December of 1953, Gene had landed a job and returned to Syracuse. Over the next few years, work led him to Grants, N.M., Pennsylvania, and Iowa, before he settled down in California to work for Lockheed Aerospace. However, in the early 1970s, Gene and several fellow Lockheed engineers struck out on their own (i.e., were laid off) to consult and document building nuclear power plants. He worked in Brazil from 1975 to 1978, and returned to work for Lockheed until his retirement in 1989.

Following their daughter Cat (Catherine), who had enrolled at New Mexico Tech in 1990, Gene and Milly returned to Socorro in 1993. However, Socorro was less a retirement town than a base for an ever-active life. Gene and Milly took several Elder Hostel train trips through Australia and several cruises on the Queens Elizabeth and Mary II.

Gene's most recent adventure, just this past spring, was to cruise around South America to Rio de Janeiro aboard the Queen Mary II, accompanied by Milly and Cat.

Gene was a longtime supporter of New Mexico Tech, having established the Alumni Scholarship Fund to reward the students with the highest averages in each major at graduation. The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to this fund. Donations may be sent to: Office for Advancement, New Mexico Tech, 801 Leroy Place, Socorro, N.M., 87801. In the "memo" line, please write "Eugene O'Connor."

Earl "Steele" McIntyre, a member of the Class of 1941, passed away on Sept. 29, 2006. He was a graduate in mining engineering. No further information was available.

Betty Lou "The Dutchess" Rhodes
, wife of Harlan "Dusty" Rhodes, Class of 1953, passed away on Dec. 28, 2005. Betty Lou was born in Lakewood, Ohio, in 1928 and moved with her family to Texas, where she graduated from the University of Texas. She married Dusty on June 1, 1953, in Sweetwater, Texas, shortly after his graduation from the New Mexico School of Mines. Most recently, the Rhodes have lived in Denver.

Ever the club woman, Betty Lou belonged to many Denver-area bridge clubs and was heavily involved in the Ladies of the Denver Petroleum Club, the P.E.O, and the Arno Art Club. Golf was her challenge and the family belonged to Valley Country Club for many years. For over twenty-five years, she was a volunteer at the Denver Art Museum.

In addition to Dusty, Betty Lou is survived by a twin sister, Majorie Jane Boyd of Lovington, New Mexico; three overachieving children: William F. Rhodes of Prescott, Arizona; Kristen Elizabeth Rhodes-Anderson of Niwot, Colo., and Patricia Lou Rhodes-Vasil of Lake Stevens, Wash., and seven grandchildren. Betty was a five-star wife and mother. The void she leaves among family and friends is without bounds. Marvin Wilkening

Marvin H. Wilkening, a longtime member of the physics faculty at New Mexico Tech and a veteran of the Manhattan Project, passed away on Sept. 24, 2006.

Gifts in his memory may be made to St. Paul's Methodist Church of Socorro or to the Marvin H. Wilkening Endowed Faculty Fund at New Mexico Tech. For information on the fund, please see Wilkening Endowed Faculty Position in Physics.

Born on the family farm near Oak Ridge, Missouri, on March 13, 1918, Marvin grew up with an appreciation of the outdoors and an interest in nature which sustained him throughout his life. Marvin passed away at the Socorro Good Samaritan Village, which he helped establish.

After graduating from Southeast Missouri State University in 1939, Marvin taught high school science and mathematics in Jackson, Missouri, until moving to Chicago to pursue graduate work in physics. In 1942 he married Ruby Barks, a teacher at Jackson High School.

He served his country as a physicist with the Manhattan Project during World War II, starting with the Fermi group at the University of Chicago, where he recorded the neutron flux indicating the first self-sustained chain reaction in the first nuclear reactor. He and Ruby moved with the project to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, then to Hanford, Washington and finally to Los Alamos, New Mexico. He was monitoring neutrons on site during the first explosion of an atomic bomb at the White Sands Missile Range 35 miles southeast of Socorro, N.M. on July 16, 1945.

After the war, he returned to Chicago to complete his Ph.D. in physics at Illinois Institute of Technology. He happily accepted a position as Associate Professor at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in 1948 and so moved to Socorro for the remainder of his life.

He enjoyed his career as an atmospheric physicist and professor working with a distinguished group of colleagues and students at NM Tech. His research work using naturally-occurring radon to trace the movements of air over mountains and islands and in caves and mines took him from New Mexico to Alaska and Hawaii and India and Spain. His techniques were useful in the study of thunderstorms, which led to his role in the establishment of NM Tech's Langmuir Laboratory in the Magdalena Mountains.

Marvin was a "people person" with a heart-warming smile for everyone. There was a special place in his heart for his students and research associates and the many international students he advised and nurtured as Dean of Graduate Studies at New Mexico Tech. He and Ruby entertained research scientists and students from Socorro and the world at large in their home and in the log cabin they built in the Gila National Forest. The cabin was also the place where many young folks were introduced to New Mexico.'s high country on fishing, hunting and hiking trips. Marvin enjoyed the beauty of the mountains and the creatures therein; the forest recharged him and reconnected him with the days of his youth in the woods of southeastern Missouri.

Marvin was preceded in death by his beloved wife Ruby. He is survived by daughter Laurel and her husband Godfrey Sill of Tucson, Arizona; son Wesley and his wife Mary of Albuquerque; granddaughter, Whitney of Albuquerque; sister, Verna Lang of Arvada, Colorado and brother, Walter Wilkening of Columbia, Missouri.

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