Alan Bagley

January 8, 1924 - June 24, 2018

Born in Pasadena, California on January 8, 1924 to Frank Bagley and Helen Bagley (née Goltra), Alan was three years old when the family moved out to Twentynine Palms, a pioneer community that valued those with drive and initiative. While his parents ran the town’s only gas station and general store, a young Alan took to building radios, contemplating the starry night skies and ranging freely across the austere and beautiful high desert he so loved. An attentive teacher helped him discover his love of music, so much that he considered a career in it. Instead he decided to become an engineer and enrolled at Caltech, though still taught himself to play the clarinet, saxophone, ukulele, piano and ocarina. His studies were interrupted by World War II, so he joined the Army Air Corps and became a B- 29 pilot. After the war he married a childhood friend, Elizabeth “Ibby” Watson, and returned to his studies at Caltech. Soon thereafter three children were born: Suzanne, Elaine and Robert. Upon graduation he learned of an interesting opportunity at a small company called Hewlett-Packard. Through a company-sponsored fellowship, he earned his Master’s degree at Stanford and then went on to become an engineer with HP for the rest of his career, until retiring in 1986. He was responsible for the first 524A frequency counter which led to the development of a whole series of frequency counters and the Frequency & Time Division, a very important contributor to the total Hewlett-Packard success story, and of which Alan became the General Manager. It was during this time the division developed the Cesium Standard “Atomic” Clock, which Alan then flew around the world, bringing it to many global standards labs. He was also instrumental in the production of Integrated Circuits, the keystone component that brought electronics into the digital age.

His marriage to Ibby ended in 1963. After that and while flying clocks around the world he started courting Lorna Munn, a fellow HP employee. They were married in 1966 and had two sons, Scott and Steven. He and Lorna enjoyed many years of laughter and exploring the world together. Sadly, Lorna passed away in 2003. In 2005 he married a long-time family friend, Sharon Defty, and they remained together for several years.

His life-long interests included traveling the world, photography, sailing, golfing, hiking, music, fly-fishing and stargazing. He was a big supporter of the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), serving on their board and executive committee. He was also a contributor to the Los Altos History Museum, including helping create some of the exhibits about Silicon Valley. Among his passions was wandering the remote desert near his hometown of Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree National Park, searching for wildflowers and clues of native habitation. He did this with a keen eye, remarkable dexterity and endurance even into his late eighties.

Alan passed away peacefully at his home in Los Altos Hills on the morning of June 24th. He is survived by his five children, six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

A memorial service will be announced later. Charitable donations could be sent to: Music for Minors or 29 Palms Historical Society

Copyright (c)2018 The Mercury News, Edition. 06/29/2018




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