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Remembering Friends

Helene Montgomery ’35 (botany) died May 13, 2007, in Napa, Calif. She was 93. Born Helene Louise Per Lee in New York City in 1914, she came West with her mother to Reno, at the onset of the Great Depression. She attended the University from 1930-1934, where she met and later married Edward S. Montgomery ’34 (journalism), late of the San Francisco Examiner. Edward, who was to become one of the University’s six Pulitzer Prize winners, died in 1992.

When her husband served two terms as the Press Club’s president in the ’50s, Helene was seen regularly at the Club’s storied Gang Dinners, often sharing the dais with such international luminaries as Haile Selassie, Vyacheslav Molotov and Queen Frederika of Greece. She is survived by her daughter, Diana Lavagnino of St. Helena; and son, Douglas of San Francisco, as well as eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Memorial donations may be made to the Nature Conservancy.

Ruth King ’37 (English) died peacefully at home on June 22, 2007. Ruth graduated with a very strong record in math as well as English and teaching courses. She was an honor student, member of Phi Kappa Phi and a member of the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta. She was a homemaker and the mother of four children. She was also a teacher. Here are some words she wrote about her own life.

 “My father began teaching at the University of Nevada the year I was born, so I graduated from the University of Nevada in Reno. I became a teacher upon completion of my education. However, my profession was homemaking for my husband and family… really two families in that our two oldest were almost grown when we started again with two little girls. Our children are Jeanie, Jim, Carol and Karen. I have enjoyed singing over the years, and when my husband Ed retired, we did quite a bit of traveling.”

During her time of teaching, she also occasionally taught music, as well as math and reading. This was surprising to her as she was often assigned to students with reading difficulties. Ruth is most remembered for being totally accepting and loving of her kids. Ruth once said she felt like “the chicken who hatched a duck egg and then sat on the shore and watched it swim.”

Ralph Wilson Shearer

Ralph Wilson Shearer ’41 (electrical engineering) died June 10, 2007 at his home in Reno. He graduated from Reno High in 1935, and received an appointment to Annapolis Naval Academy. He later received the opportunity to accept a scholarship at Nevada, where he was a member of the Ski Team, the Glee Club, played drums in the ROTC band and joined SAE fraternity. After graduating, he worked summers on the Hoover Dam. In 1943, he won an “E” medal for work on the B-29 and worked on the Whittle jet engine to support the Bell P-59. In 1948, he met and married the love of his life, Jeanne Thomas.

They had three children. In 1954, he graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with an MBA degree and certificate of Industrial Relations. He later returned to Reno and did professional engineering at the University Planetarium, Sierra Pacific Power, Rocketdyne, as well as testing of the Gemini engines for the lunar module. In 1992, he and Jeanne retired to their Sparks home.

Ralph was a kind, soft spoken, generous gentleman and will be sadly missed by his family, friends and community. Ralph is survived by his sister, Gwen Patton; daughter, Karen (Ken); granddaughter, Sierra; daughter Debra (Bob) Ballinger and grandchildren Mike and Amy Ballinger and Jeff Cooper; daughter Lynne and her family. He was preceded in death by both his sons, Steven and Douglas Shearer. Remembrance in Ralph’s honor can be made to the Wilbur D. May Arboretum.

Charles E. Johnston ’47 (mining engineering) died March 2, 2007 in Carson City.During World War II Charles served with the 16th Army battalion in the Battle of the Bulge. He was married to Pearl Don for 59 years. Charles was attending the University of Nevada, Reno studying Mining Engineering, when World War II broke out. He only had one semester to go until graduation, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. As Charles knew how to survey, he went to war as a forward artillery surveyor.

He was in many theatres, but the most difficult was his service with the 16th Army battalion in the Battle of the Bulge. With his excellent sense of direction, memory and intelligence, he used to say he “surveyed” his way through Europe. After the war, he met his bride-to-be on Saint Patrick’s Day in Hollywood, Calif. Pearl Don had worked as Rosie the Riveter at the Lockheed plant in Burbank, building B-17 Flying Fortresses. Charles returned to the Mackay School of Mines and graduated in May 1947. In June 1947 Charles and Pearl married, and were together for 59 years. They had two girls, Nancy and Anita, whom he loved very much. Charles is survived by his daughters and their husbands, Jay and Doug, along with two grandsons, Jon and Caleb.

Charles Frederick Coe ’48 (mechanical engineering) died April 17, 2007 at The Forum in Cupertino. Calif.  Charles was born on March 15, 1923 in San Mateo, Calif. to Gei and Ida (Hinze) Coe. His family remained in Burlingame, Calif. and it was there that he graduated high school, attended two years at San Mateo Junior College and enlisted in World War II.

During the war, Charlie flew 31 missions as a navigator on B-17s in the European theater as a member of the 303rd Bomb Group — the Hell’s Angels. On several occasions the crew relied on him to find alternate landing strips on the British coast because their aircraft was too shot up to make it all the way back to the airfield at Molesworth. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and a European Theater of Operations Medal. He returned to the United States and became a navigator instructor on B-29s and then an instructor of instructors. After leaving active duty he served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve until 1967.

In 1945 he married Shyrle Uhalt, of New Orleans, and together they built their lifetime home on Cuesta Drive in Los Altos, Calif. Theirs was the first house on the street, which was a cul-de-sac ending at Springer Road Their backyard, a prune orchard, extended all the way to the railroad tracks — now Foothill Expressway. 
Charlie retired from NASA Ames Research Center after 32 years of research on subjects of aerodynamics, dynamic loads, aero elasticity, structural dynamics and instrument design.

He authored more than 40 NASA reports primarily on the subjects of dynamic airloads and buffeting. As a member of the Space Shuttle Structure Team he proposed and carried out special wind-tunnel tests on the Space Shuttle tiles that provided the first measurements of steady-state and dynamic aerodynamic forces and moments. He designed the unique tile airload instrumentation that made these tests a success. In recognition for this work, Charlie received NASA’s Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal in 1981.

After retirement from NASA in 1981, Charlie started COE Engineering, Inc. and worked on the correlation of wind-tunnel and flight measurements of buffet loads and the prediction of buffeting of aircraft, support of wind-tunnel tests for the prediction of buffeting of Titan IV and Delta launch vehicles, design and development of a patented electronic pressure scanner, and research on flexible thermal protection materials in an aerodynamic environment. 

Two years prior to his death, NASA requested his participation in a select group of experts (known as the “greybeards”) to support wind-tunnel tests to measure and specify the aero-acoustic and buffet loads on the Space Shuttle Orbiter and External Tank.

 Charles will be deeply missed by his daughters, Lizabeth Coe of Los Altos and Francesca Coe Sherrill of Blackhawk; and grandsons Charles Alexei Coe and Peter Frederick Coe. Memorial Services were held on Friday, April 27, 2007 at St. William Catholic Church, Los Altos Hills, Calif. A gift may be made in memory of Charles Coe to the scholarship he established, the Coe Family Scholarship Endowment through the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation. Contact Melanie Perish, College of Engineering – Dean’s Office, Mail Stop 256, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, Nevada 89557.


Bill “Coach I” Ireland ’52 (physical education), an influential force in the state’s collegiate athletic programs died peacefully surrounded by family on July 31, 2007 in Reno. Bill was loved and admired by everyone who knew him.

His players regarded him as an exceptional coach, teacher and role model. While a student at Nevada Bill met and married Jeanne Brunetti, a beautiful blonde Pi Phi who captured his heart from across a crowded dance floor. Together they raised four girls and three boys.

Bill’s first coaching assignment was at Nevada as the first graduate assistant under athletic director Jake Lawlor. A year later in 1953, he coached all sports at Fernley High School, winning 10 state championships in four years. In 1960, Bill became the head baseball coach and assistant football coach at Nevada, leading his baseball team to win the NCAA West Coast regional championship.

In 1967, Bill moved to Las Vegas to lead UNLV’s first football team and became the school’s athletic director in 1972. Honored as the “Father of UNLV football,” Bill was inducted into the UNLV Hall of Fame in 1987. In 1997, he received the nationally recognized Neyland Athletic Directors Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bill is survived by his wife and their children: Christopher Ireland (Davis Masten), Kerry Ireland (Joe Herold), Kimberly Carano, Kelly Ireland, Michael Ireland (Lucinda Owens), Patrick Ireland and Terrence Ireland (Linh Tran). He is also survived by 16 grandchildren, as well as his sister Patricia Helmick (Jim Helmick), his mother-in-law, Rina Brunetti and sister-in-law, Eleanor Brunetti. Donations can be made to the Bill Ireland endowed baseball scholarship (c/o AAUN: Ireland Scholarship, Wolf Pack Athletics, Legacy Hall 232, Reno, NV 89557).

Henry Ehrlinger III ’57 (metallurgical engineering) died May 25, 2007 in Carrier Mills, Ill. He was the widower of Lorraine (Schaublin) Ehrlinger, whom he married in 1949. Later he married Rose Butler Wilson in 1970, who preceded him in death in 1997. Henry was born in Kellogg, Idaho, on Aug. 5, 1925. The family lived in Idaho, Illinois, Colorado, Indiana, New Mexico, and Texas. Six weeks after his 18th birthday, he was in the military service during World War II, seeing service in the Phillippines on Luzon and the battle of Manila with the 754th Tank Battalion.

His mining career led to employment in Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania and almost 10 years in Mexico. He was an active member of the Society of Mining Engineers and chairman of the Industrial Minerals Division. After his retirement from the Illinois State Geological Survey in 1993, he resided in Eldorado, Ill. where he was active in Main Street activities and enjoyed his association with the Harrisburg Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society (barbershop singing). Henry is survived by two daughters, Constance and Paula; a stepdaughter, Christie Lee; stepson, Vernon; a sister, Ann; one grandson, Eric; six step grandchildren; and five great-step grandchildren.

Bert Scales

Bert F. Scales ’61 M.S. (geology) died June 18, 2007 at the age of 74. At the time of his death, he was the president of Natural Reserves Group, Inc., an oil and gas exploration and production company in Houston, Texas. He is survived by his wife, Yvonne, two sons and three grandchildren.

Thomas D. Beardsley II ‘67

Thomas D. Beardsley II ‘67 (biology) died of cancer on April 30, 2007 in Edmonds, Wash. Tom was a member of Sigma Nu and earned his block N in cross-country, a talent that carried over to his brief military career, when he won the cross-country championship at Ft. Ord while undergoing basic training.

In his 20s and 30s, he traveled extensively, finally settling in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. After a decade there, he moved his environmental consultancy business elsewhere in Alaska, and ultimately settled in Seattle. Tom was devoted to his three children, Chloe, Noah and Cedric, ages 19, 14 and 11, all of whom are students in Washington. He is also survived by his sister, Patti, and brother, Bruce ’64 (history).

Charlotte (Garfinkle) O’Ryan ’75

Charlotte (Garfinkle) O’Ryan ’75 (social psychology) died June 8, 2007 at age 72. Charlotte worked for the Nevada State Employment Office and also as a Drug Abuse counselor at Omega House. She is survived by sons, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Cathy (McCown) Chichester

Cathy (McCown) Chichester, ‘79, (CPA) (MBA, Golden Gate University, 1984) died Jan. 21, 2007 at the age of 49 after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer. Cathy worked in the accounting department of the College of Business Administration as a work study student while attending Nevada. She was a successful business woman, owning several businesses, and most recently her own CPA firm.

Cathy was a native Nevadan born June 19, 1957 in Las Vegas. Cathy received her CPA certification from the State of Nevada in 1982. Everyone who knew Cathy will remember her exuberance for life, her special knack of making people laugh, her exceptional talent playing the piano and her enthusiasm for golf. Cathy’s one regret upon learning of her illness was that she wouldn’t have time to break 90.

Cathy is survived by her children, Stephanie and Alex Chichester; mother, Charlotte McCown; father Chuck (Carol) McCown; sister, Christy (Wayne) Buss; nephew, Dustin (Ewa) McCown; partner, Brian McKaig (Brad and Bo); her beloved cat, Fluffy, and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Her family wishes to acknowledge the care provided to Cathy from the Circle of Life Hospice. A Celebration of Life was held Feb. 1, 2007, at the Prospector’s Club at Harrah’s, in Reno.


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