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Obituaries, July to October 2003

Obituaries, July to October 2003


[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.]

Gus Blaisdell
, who taught philosophy and mathematics at New Mexico Tech for a while in the 1970s, passed away on Sept. 17, 2003. After leaving Tech, Blaisdell taught at the University of New Mexico for almost 25 years. He had wide-ranging interests in areas such as still photography, motion pictures, painting, and philosophy, and he helped establish a department in media arts at UNM.

Lee Allan Bessey (67, BS, math), age 58, died July 6 of hypertension at his home in Riverside, Calif. Born in Minnesota, Mr. Bessey lived in Riverside 13 years, after living in Corona for six years. He was a civilian weapons analyst with the U.S. Navy's Fleet Analysis Center, part of the Naval Warfare Assessment Station in Norco, for more than 28 years before he retired in 1995.

Lee was a photographer at high school marching band, dance team, and drum corps competitions in the Riverside area from 1995 until 2002.

He is survived by two sons, Jason of Moreno Valley and Matthew of Riverside, a brother Mike of Washington; and two sisters, Patty Green and Diana Spicer, both of Washington.

Lee's classmate, Robert Kelher (67, BS, math), writes, "Lee will be greatly missed by family and friends. Go in peace my friend."

Dr. Carlos Ernesto Garcia
, who taught at New Mexico Tech during the 1960s, passed away on Sept. 29, 2003. Alumnus Robert E. Chaney (79, BS, metallurgical engr.), who sent us this notice, added, "I knew Dr. Garcia back in the late 1970s when I was attending Tech. At the time, my father was running an aircraft restoration shop. I assisted Carlos and my father in the restoration of a 1947 Stinson Voyager he owned at the time. Carlos Garcia was a brilliant man, and all who had the honor to work with are feeling his loss."

Garcia was killed when his 1947 Beechcraft Bonanza crashed west of Belen. He was born in Las Vegas, N.M. in 1936. He earned his bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering at New Mexico State University. He was a Registered Professional Engineer. He held many distinguished positions, working for the U.S. Army at White Sands Missile Range; Douglas Aircraft, the Department of Energy, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Kenneth Griego
, a special graduate student at New Mexico Tech, was killed in a motorcycle accident on July 26, 2003.

Griego was an electrical engineer who had worked at Sandia National Laboratories for six years. He was 34 years old. He was enrolled in a special New Mexico Tech program that offered a master's degree in mechanical engineering to Sandia employees, through distance education classes.

Griego had a bachelor's degree from New Mexico State and a master's degree from Clemson University, both in electrical engineering. He is survived by his wife, Reane; son, Tomas; and daughter, Mackenzie.

Francis U. Hammel, Class of 1923, passed away on Aug. 26, 2003, at the age of 102.

Hammel was born in Socorro in 1901, son of the family who owned the Hammel brewery, later the Hammel icehouse, and now the Hammel Museum. As a boy, he spent summer vacations delivering ice to families by horse and buggy. During his days as a student at the School of Mines, he met and married Alma Philipp, daughter of the owner of Socorro's five-and-dime.

Francis' son, Bill, recalled, "The family had a large two-story home on California St. on one acre of ground. Our grandmother lived there till her death. Our dad had many fond memories of Socorro and wanted to go back to visit before his death." l

After graduating from the School of Mines, Hammel worked for the U. S. Boundary Commission, mapping the border between the U. S. and Mexico, and also state borders. According to his children, he "walked or rode a horse from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean, checking and repairing boundary markers between Mexico and the United States."

In 1927, Francis and Alma moved to Los Angeles. He worked for the L. A. Parks and Recreation Dept., where he eventually became a supervisor. After he retired in 1966, he and Alma moved to a ranch in Gardenia, Calif., and eventually to Lake Forest, Calif., in Orange County.

Bill Hammel recalls, "His love was gardening and every home of his had a beautiful rose garden and countless flowers. He was named "Lake Forest Gardener of the Year" three years in a row. But the real love of his life was his wife, Alma."

Alma passed away in 1995, after 71 years of marriage. In her memory, Francis planted a pink rose bush, called "Unforgettable." His son Bill and daughter-in-law, Jackie, have two sons, Andrew and James.

The Alumni Office received word that Dr. Philip Keim (66, BS, chemistry) passed away on March 21, 2003, at his home in Stroudsburg, Penn. He requested no obituary. He was a 1966 alumnus and earned his Ph.D. in 1970.

Robert Hay Lane, a 1950 alumnus with a degree in mining engineering, passed away on April 2, 2003.

Robert was born on March 30, 1922, in Berlin, Penn. He graduated in 1940 from Berlin Brothersvalley High School, where he was editor of the yearbook, a player on the basketball team, and a member of the Fife and Drum Corps. He then attended New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, but his education was interrupted by World War II.

He was proud to serve his country in France and Italy. He was a staff sergeant with Bomb Maintenance Techs 683 of the 1257th Army Air Force and the 484th Bomb Group. After his honorable discharge, he graduated with degrees in mining engineering and geology.

He began his engineering career with International Mining Corporation in Carlsbad, N.M. His work for IMC included living in Canada for three years.

Bob retired from Kerr-McGee Potash Company in 1992, having moved to Hobbs in 1965. He was active in the Masonic Lodge, Shrine Clowns, the Presbyterian Church, American Legion, VFW Post 3274, and Fraternal Order of Eagles. He loved gardening, hunting, fishing, attending professional golf tournaments, and building radio controlled model airplanes. In later years, he won many ribbons in the country and state fairs for his needlework (long stitch and embroidery).

Robert married Catherine Clarke on Sept. 14, 1948, at First Presbyterian Church in Socorro. Catherine was the daughter of Dr. Clarence C. Clarke, D.D.S., and Myrtle Cedar Clarke of Socorro. Catherine preceded Bob in death in 1993. He is survived by four children (and their spouses): Robert Clarke Lane of Coppel, Texas; Martha Lane of Albuquerque, N.M.; Barbara Lane of Hobbs, N.M.; and Clare Lane Nickel of Abilene, Texas; and six grand children. He was a devoted father as well as a loving and generous grandfather.

Dr. Adrian Marroquin
died of cancer Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2003, at HospiceCare Center of Boulder & Broomfield Counties in Louisville, Colo. He was 59.

Born Oct. 2, 1943, in La Palma, Colombia, he was the son of Martin Marroquin and Felisa Serrato Marroquin. He earned his doctorate in atmospheric physics at New Mexico Tech in 1981.

He was a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for 12 years and also worked at Colorado State University in the Cooperative Institute of Research in the Atmosphere. He lived in Louisville for the last 14 years, after moving from Boulder where he lived for 10 years. Mr. Marroquin was a member of Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Church of Boulder .

Carl Axness, who was a fellow graduate student and good friend of Marroquin, said, "Adrian Marroquin was a very bright researcher completely dedicated to science. From a humble beginning as one of twelve children from a small town in Colombia, he came to New Mexico Tech on a scholarship, eventually obtaining a Ph.D. in physics. As a graduate student at New Mexico Tech, he was known for helping other students in their studies, particularly those from Latin countries. Upon graduation, he worked at both NCAR and NOAA in Boulder, Colo., in the area of storm modeling. He remained active in research even while undergoing cancer treatment. He contributed to the area of turbulence modeling in storms and atmospheric transport of pollutants."

"Adrian was known for his smile and friendly manner, and he had a keen interest in nature, taking frequent hikes in the mountains around Boulder and providing care for the cats and squirrels in the neighborhood of his house. Never married, Adrian nevertheless enjoyed the opportunity to teach science to children with gifts of physics-related toys. He will be greatly missed by all that knew him." Ruby Wilkening

Ruby B. Wilkening, wife of Marvin Wilkening, emeritus professor of physics, passed away on June 20, 2003, one month short of her 83rd birthday.

Ruby was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to Edna and James A. Barks. She earned a bachelor's degree from Southeast Missouri State University and taught high school mathematics and English in Jackson, Missouri, until her marriage to fellow teacher Marvin Wilkening in 1942. They moved to New Mexico in 1944, living for a brief period in Los Alamos near the end of WWII. They returned to live in Socorro in 1948.

Ruby was very involved in the Socorro community. She was a supporter of the Socorro Public Library and was active in St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Girl Scouts of America, the Socorro Branch of the American Association of University Women.

She was also an outdoors woman. An avid bird watcher and fisherman, she accompanied Marvin on many hunting trips and some grueling hikes in the Gila Wilderness. From the time they moved to Socorro to the last months of her life, she enjoyed bird watching in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. With Marvin, she enjoyed entertaining friends, family, and Tech's foreign visitors at the log cabin they constructed in 1956 in Catron County.

Ruby is survived by her husband of 60 years, Marvin H. Wilkening of Socorro; daughter Laurel and her husband Godfrey Sill of Elgin, Arizona; son Wes and his wife Mary of Albuquerque; sister Normal Palm of Dallas, Texas; granddaughter Whitney of Albuquerque; and a host of dear friends.