OBITUARY

George Robert Blakley Jr.

May 6, 1932December 10, 2018

George Robert Blakley, Jr. May 6, 1932 – December 10, 2018

George Robert (Bob) Blakley, Jr. passed away on Monday, December 10 at his home in Austin. A visitation and funeral service in Bob’s honor will be held starting at 1pm on Thursday, December 20, at Cook-Walden Chapel of the Hills at 9700 Anderson Mill Road, Austin, Texas 78750; the service will begin at 3pm.

George Robert (Bob) Blakley, Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois to Gladys Baechle Blakley and George Robert Blakley.

He attended St. Ignatius Loyola College Prep in Chicago, Illinois, and upon graduation attended Georgetown University, earning an A.B. in Physics, magna cum laude.

After graduation, Bob attended graduate classes at Northwestern University, and then moved from Chicago to Washington DC to enroll in the University of Maryland, College Park, from which he received the PhD in Mathematics. While attending Maryland, Bob worked as a mathematician and computer programmer at the US National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C.

After earning his PhD, Bob did Postdoctoral Research at Cornell University for the Office of Naval Research, and then at the Harvard University department of Mathematics for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He was named Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, and subsequently became Associate Professor of Mathematics at SUNY Buffalo; later in his career he spent a sabbatical as Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Wright State University.

Bob was hired at Texas A&M University in 1970 as Chair of the Mathematics Department and a full professor. He stepped down as department chair in 1977, but continued to teach and research in the fields of Mathematics and Cryptography until his retirement from Texas A&M in 2014, after which he served as Professor Emeritus. In 2001, the Faculty of Information Technology at Queensland University of Technology, in Brisbane, Australia, awarded Bob an honorary Doctorate in recognition of his contributions to mathematics, cryptography, and information security.

Among Bob’s many achievements were: Fellow and Board Member of the International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR), Lifetime member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and Program Chair at the International Cryptology Conference (“Crypto”). Bob’s best known work is the "Blakley secret sharing scheme" which is widely taught in mathematical cryptography classes worldwide, and is used to protect the security of critical infrastructure and national security systems.

His lifelong love of mathematics, cryptography, physics and astronomy was only exceeded by his loyalty and dedication to his family. He was married for 61 years to Virginia Blakley (nee Clarke), and will be deeply missed by his wife, his children, and his grandchildren.

Bob was preceded in death by his father George Robert Blakley, his mother Gladys Baechle Blakley, his brother David Blakley, his beloved cousin Maureen Breen Putnam, and many uncles including his lifelong friends Thomas and Rich Blakley. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Virginia; his son George Robert (Bob) Blakley III and wife Karen Hejtmancik Blakley, daughter Cynthia Wilcox and husband Charles Wilcox, daughter Lydia Fiedler and husband Paul Fiedler; grandchildren Sean Blakley and wife Amber Trueblood, and daughter Laura Blakley; cousins Thomas Repetto, Nancy Breen Johnson, Carolyn Baechle, Rosalyn Baechle and Nancy Baechle, and many other cousins.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bob’s honor to the Wounded Warrior Project at this link:

https://bit.ly/2EmxODl

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be left at www.cookwaldenchapelofthehills.com for the Blakley family.

  • FAMILY

  • Virginia Blakley, Wife
  • George Robert & Karen Blakley III, Son
  • Cynthia & Charles Wilcox, Daughter
  • Lydia & Paul Fielder, Daughter
  • Sean & Amber Blakley, Grandchild
  • Laura Blakley, Grandchild
  • Thomas Repetto, Cousin
  • Nancy Breen Johnson, Cousin
  • Carolyn Baechle, Cousin
  • Rosalyn Baechle, Cousin
  • Nancy Baechle, Cousin
  • George is also survived by many other cousins, who will cherish his memory fondly.
REMEMBERING

George Robert Blakley Jr.

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Brendan (Danny) Breen

December 20, 2018

Dear Blakley Family,

I am very sorry for your loss, as I have been hearing about my mother (Susan Breen O’Neil) and my Aunt Maureen (Breen Putnam) and Aunt Nancy (Breen Johnson) ‘s “brilliant cousin Robert” for many years now. Having read his obituary on the website and also Wikopedia(!) I was pleasantly surprised to see the achievements, not only in academia, but also in service to the country and to the broader field of science.

Truly, Cousin Robert was a remarkable person, who did not let anything prevent him from a life of learning, exploration, development, and contribution. We are all honored by his work and life and can be proud that a bright light of the world now helps to illuminate the heavens. I hope that his example can inspire the next several generations of his descendants to excel as he did.

“Per aspera ad astra”

Sincerely,

Brendan (Danny) Breen

Gina Krupsky

December 18, 2018

What an fabulous man and such a rich and amazing life! Knowing and loving his daughter Lydia for so many years, I can only imagine how wonderful it would have been to have spent time listening to him speak, enjoying his sense of humor and getting to know him. The Blakely family is in my thoughts and prayers for healing and peace.

Kelli Hull

December 17, 2018

Having only met Lydia of the family I knew she came from excellent parenting. Morales and ethics like a saint! She has always written so fondly of her daddy in her blog posts, I feel like I knew him. My heart aches for you all and you are all in my continuous prayers!

Gods love,
KJ

Katherine Cosimano

December 14, 2018

I am friends with Mr. Blakley’s daughters, Lydia and Cynthia, so I have heard many stories over the years. I have also had the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Blakley on the phone, once, and he made me laugh. From what I can gather, he was a man of quiet brilliance... humble about his many worldly accomplishments... wise... a man of strong values and ethics... of great humor and kindness. Those traits are reflected in his daughters, who are similarly blessed with kind, loving, and generous hearts. My sincere condolences to the entire family... to Mrs. Blakley, to Bob and Karen Blakley, to Cynthia and Charlie Wilcox, and to Lydia and Paul Fiedler. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Nancy Johnson

December 13, 2018

Dear Ginny and all the Family,

You have our sincerest sympathy on your great loss.

Robert has been a legend in our family for several generations. He has always been loved and admired for his warm personality, his unfailing sense of humor, his many achievements, his enthusiastic participation in conversation, and his unique perspective on the largest or the smallest issue or event. With his astute observations, sharp recall, and wide range of knowledge he was able to expound on any subject, invariably incorporating a unique perspective or even an obscure mathematical concept into an otherwise mundane conversation.

Among the Baechle cousins, "Cousin Robert" was our senior member, 10 or 12 years older than most of us and our authority on everything. How lucky we were to have him in our lives!

He will be sorely missed by all who were lucky enough to know him.

Love,
Nancy Breen Johnson and Family

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
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FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

George Robert (Bob) Blakley, Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois to Gladys Baechle Blakley and George Robert Blakley.

He attended St. Ignatius Loyola College Prep in Chicago, Illinois, and upon graduation attended Georgetown University, earning an A.B. in Physics, magna cum laude.

After graduation, Bob attended graduate classes at Northwestern University, and then moved from Chicago to Washington DC to enroll in the University of Maryland, College Park, from which he received the PhD in Mathematics. While attending Maryland, Bob worked as a mathematician and computer programmer at the US National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C.

After earning his PhD, Bob did Postdoctoral Research at Cornell University for the Office of Naval Research, and then at the Harvard University department of Mathematics for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He was named Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, and subsequently became Associate Professor of Mathematics at SUNY Buffalo; later in his career he spent a sabbatical as Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Wright State University.

Bob was hired at Texas A&M University in 1970 as Chair of the Mathematics Department and a full professor. He stepped down as department chair in 1977, but continued to teach and research in the fields of Mathematics and Cryptography until his retirement from Texas A&M in 2014, after which he served as Professor Emeritus. In 2001, the Faculty of Information Technology at Queensland University of Technology, in Brisbane, Australia, awarded Bob an honorary Doctorate in recognition of his contributions to mathematics, cryptography, and information security.

Among Bob’s many achievements were: Fellow and Board Member of the International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR), Lifetime member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and Program Chair at the International Cryptology Conference (“Crypto”). Bob’s best known work is the "Blakley secret sharing scheme" which is widely taught in mathematical cryptography classes worldwide, and is used to protect the security of critical infrastructure and national security systems.

His lifelong love of mathematics, cryptography, physics and astronomy was only exceeded by his loyalty and dedication to his family. He was married for 61 years to Virginia Blakley (nee Clarke), and will be deeply missed by his wife, his children, and his grandchildren.