Henry Merville Alvord passed away Monday, August 4, 2014, of congestive heart failure. He was 84 years old. He is survived by best friend Cindy Quake of Big Bear Lake, California; son Charles William Alvord; daughter-in-law Anna Gildersleeve Alvord and grandchildren Miles Alvord and Hilary Alvord, all of Bolton, Massachusetts; daughter Sarah Alvord of Ukiah, California and sisters Billie Black of Cherry Valley, California and Mary Seymour of Phoenix, Arizona.
Known as Hank to his friends and Merve to his family, he was born in Santa Ana to Lucy and William Garfield (aka Charles William) Alvord and moved to Big Bear when he was four. He graduated from Banning High School and then served four years in the Strategic Air Command before and during the Korean War. After an honorable discharge, the GI Bill allowed him to enroll at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly), where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He was the first member of his family to graduate from college, and both his children went on to earn doctorate degrees.
Most of his working life was spent in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he was one of the pioneers of the early tech industry. He headed a design group for airborne data recorders at Ampex in Redwood City, California. The group's equipment was deployed on a number of exotic platforms including the SR-71 "Blackbird" spy plane and Skylab. He retired from the position of principal engineer at Electro-Technology in Redwood City.
He was a devoted father who instilled a love of science, science fiction and nature in his children. He was a "foodie" long before that term was invented and was known for his Beef Wellington and chicken soup with hand-cut noodles. He loved to travel with his sisters, exploring the Southwest, Mexico, Peru and Africa. When he retired, he bought a 5th-wheel trailer and traveled the country before returning home to Big Bear and the Pass Area. He spent his summers as a campground host and enjoyed knowing more about the area than the Forest Service professionals. He spent his winters in the Pass Area. When his years finally caught up to him, he moved into an apartment in Big Bear Lake where he could easily get around his hometown and remain close to his beloved mountains, friends and family.
Final arrangements are still pending; written remembrances can be sent to P.O. Box 266, Ukiah, CA 95482. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Habitat for Humanity in his name.
Arrangements were entrusted to Weaver Mortuary, Beaumont, California.