In Memory

Robert Dailey Hitchcock - Class Of 1941

Robert Dailey Hitchcock

Robert Hitchcock of Ventura, passed away on January 31, 2009. He was born on December 11, 1923, in Los Angeles, and was raised and educated in South Pasadena. He was the son of Horace and Amy Hitchcock and grandson of A.S. Hitchcock, noted botanist and one-time head agronomist for the United States. His grandfather's gifts of books on science and nature, as well as his office in the Smithsonian "Castle," sparked Robert's lifelong interest.

Robert attended Stanford University for one year before joining the U.S. Army in July 1942. He was in the Signal Corps and was attached to the 8th Air Force in England. He was honorably discharged in late 1945 and resumed his studies at Stanford, graduating with a B.S. in physics. He received an M.S. in physics from the University of Iowa, where a highlight was having dinner with department head James Van Allen, along with two other graduate students.

Robert's best friend moved to Ventura County when the boys were young teens, and Robert became very enamored with the area during frequent visits. He definitely knew where he wanted to live when he grew up. After working in Los Angeles for two years, he went to work for Sperry Gyroscope, Point Mugu, as a mathematician and then to the Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory at Port Hueneme as a physicist for 24 years. During that time, his work ranged from research on superconductive thin films for use in electronic sensors, development of underwater TV, mathematical analysis and programming for ocean engineering, e.g., ocean current sensors, underwater lights, acoustic transponders, topographic mapping systems, and seafloor emplacement systems. While working at the lab, he earned nine patents for the Navy. After retirement, he was self-employed as a consultant.

He loved classical music and after a few piano lessons insisted on teaching himself and was able to perform a complete, fairly credible, Grieg's Piano Concert by the age of 16. Robert so enjoyed making and hearing music that during his years in the universities or in the Army he always managed to find a piano on which to play. Many of those pianos were in churches with open doors and tolerant clergy.

Robert's hands on the piano was a source of pleasure for his family, as were his playful ways with language and numbers, his sense of humor and the caring he showed for all of us. We say goodbye with great sadness but with wonderful memories.

Robert is survived by his wife of 51 years, Valerie; daughter and son-in-law, Ann and Rolf Hesse; and grandson, Robert Hesse, whose early years were filled with "grandpa stories." He is also survived by nephews, Frank (SPHS '61), Brian, and Alan; and niece, Christine, the children of his deceased brother, Dr. William Hitchcock.

Ventura Star, February 5, 2009