George Gleghorn, founding figure of Rancho Palos Verdes and advocate for open spaces, dies at 94 – Daily Breeze


George Gleghorn, an aerospace industry executive who played a major role in incorporating the town of Rancho Palos Verdes and defending open spaces on the Palos Verdes peninsula, died at his home on Friday August 27 . He was 94 years old.

Gleghorn died of chronic lung disease, according to his family. He and his 70-year-old wife, Barbara, 96, were known as true community embers on the peninsula.

The couple were active in Save Our Coastline, an organization that opposed the use of a public park for a golf course. They also helped raise funds for the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy in its quest to acquire additional property.

The Gleghorns were honored in 1980 as Distinguished Citizens for their “heroic efforts” on behalf of the Peninsula Library District, according to a 90th anniversary tribute written on behalf of the district by Barbara Ailor.

George raised funds for the community library system during a period of declining income and served on the district board for 15 years, serving several times as president. Barbara, who was a teacher and travel agent, was active in the Friends of the Peninsula Library.

Alice Gleghorn, one of the couple’s three children, said her father was a gentle, gentle man who had a “wry, pun-laden sense of humor.”

George was a member of the Pacific Unitarian Church choir in Rancho Palos Verdes, enjoyed singing with friends from the California Institute of Technology, and performing folk songs on his guitar.

“They don’t make them like him anymore,” Alice said. “He served the community in many ways while leading this very specialized work in the defense industry. And during his retirement, he was able to devote even more time to the community.

Gleghorn has worked in the aerospace industry for four decades. He has held numerous consulting positions while publishing five scientific articles on computer science and aeronautics. He was a digital computer designer, systems engineer, head of scientific satellites and vice president and head of space defense, product integrity and space vehicles, among others, according to his bio.

Gleghorn retired in 1990 as Vice President, Chief Engineer, at TRW Space and Technology Group, in Redondo Beach. After his retirement, according to his biography, he wrote a report on “the protection of spacecraft from orbital debris and NOAA’s advice on satellite-guided weather systems.”

In 1988, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Colorado. Two years later, Gleghorn was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Born May 29, 1927 in San Francisco, Gleghorn was sent to the University of Colorado at Boulder where he was accepted into an accelerated naval officer training program, receiving a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with distinction in 1947, according to a biography provided. by his family.

He married Barbara Joy Meadows in 1948, the same year he obtained a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology. After being sent to Japan as a naval communications officer during the Korean War, he returned to earn a doctorate cum laude from CalTech in 1955.

In 1954, the couple moved to the peninsula, according to a 2001 article in The Daily Breeze. They lived in Palos Verdes Estates before moving to what became Rancho Palos Verdes before it was incorporated in 1973.

Former Rancho Palos Verdes mayor Jim Knight said he had known the couple for over 12 years when a developer revealed plans to use public land around Town Hall for land for private golf.

Barbara Gleghorn formed Save our Coastline 2 – years after joining the original Save our Coastline group formed in 1970 – to persuade City Council to keep the land so the community could enjoy the open spaces and ocean trail views while by protecting endangered species.

A few years later, the Gleghorns helped Knight get elected to city council.

“George has always been there to support any effort,” Knight said in an email. “His contribution was reserved and methodical, but always definitive – undoubtedly the influence of being an engineer. He was a kind soul and always supported Barbara’s passionate community engagement.

City manager Ara Mihranian said in a statement that Gleghorn had remained devoted to the city for decades.

“George brought his considerable intelligence and common sense to the important issues of incorporating Rancho Palos Verdes and acquiring and preserving open spaces,” said former Rancho Palos Verdes Mayor Ann Shaw, in an email. “He cared deeply about the community and made it a better place for all of us. “

Gleghorn also served RPV as chairman of the Taxation Finance Advisory Committee from 1986 to 1987 and as a member of the board of directors of the Harbor Free Clinic in San Pedro. He and his wife were founding members of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of the Pacific and they were also founders and supporters of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy.

Besides his wife, he is survived by his children Beth, Brian and Alice; and grandchildren Kalia and Erik Rothlind and Kira and Gianna Gleghorn.

A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date, according to the family, due to concerns over COVID-19.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy or other charity.

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