Gilbert Schuyler Bahn

April 25, 1922July 3, 2013

Gilbert S. Bahn of Moorpark died on July 3, 2013. He was born 25 April 1922 in Syracuse, New York and had located in Moorpark in 1990 after his retirement from a career of 45 years as an engineer. Thereupon he began activity as a historical scholar, and this elevated his profile with Marquis Who's Who from the regional volume for the West to "Who's Who in America." He was an intellectual who found no intellectual companionship in retirement, and counted as his closest friends professional persons whose client he was, and salespersons who recognized his face without ever knowing his name. The intellectual part aside, he was a great lover of nature and an avid fan of some organized sports. He called himself the "Last Loyal Fan of the New York Americans," the last-place team in a seven-team National Hockey League in 1940. He was proud of himself as a child of the Great Depression, and whimsically proud to be able to say that his life savings (when he was seven years old) had been wiped out in the crash of the stock market in 1929.

Although he had lived in numerous places, only one place was "home," a farm on Skaneateles Lake in New York where he had faithfully tended a huge vegetable garden under his father's direction from 1933 to 1936. He always called his father the greatest person he had ever known, and considered that he had derived from his father not only his own work ethic but so much of human goodness as he himself was able to assimilate. And he considered that his love of nature was born on that farm. He had had two very brief and very unsuccessful marriages, and had eventually come to the opinion that he was temperamentally unsuited for the give and take of marriage. At least he was convinced that, if the opinion were wrong, he had not found anyone to disprove it. In his final years of activity he felt blessed to be responsible only for himself and what he tried to contribute to society voluntarily by his research and by his plan for dispositon of his estate. From his first marriage, he had one son, Gilbert Kennedy Bahn of Willis, Texas. The estate plan is for a monthly stipend for life to the son, and then the passing of the assets of the estate into an endowed book fund at the University of Virginia, where all of his papers, professional and personal, are destined. The endowed fund was established, per his dictum, "With Recognition of the Service to America of Governor Paul Vories McNutt of Indiana, Senator Alva Blanchard Adams of Colorado, and Senator Guy Mark Gillette of Iowa." As he explained to the University of Virginia, "there are many minor heroes in American history; these three happen to be particular heroes of mine." He wanted it emphasized that he did not diminish the real contributions of these three in any way when he identified himself as the same person who had admired the members of a last-place hockey team. It was he who was the aberration, he said, and he made the best of life as someone who always seemed to be different without wishing that to be so.

He received his undergraduate degree in 1943 from Columbia University, entered military service as an Aviation Cadet, served in various technical administrative capacities in the Southwest Pacific Area, and returned to civilian life as a captain in 1946. He then commenced his engineering career with the General Electric Company, which he left in 1953 after his "boss" had been reorganized out of the supervisory position. He came to California to work for the Marquardt Aircraft Company in Van Nuys. Victim of a huge lay-off in 1970, he found a position in Hampton, Virginia with LTV Aerospace Corporation. While the corporate identity changed time and again, he worked in the same organization in Hampton until his retirement in 1988, when he happily was able to return to California and resume his hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains. He, of course, could not keep up with anyone on a mountain bike, but he enjoyed the energy that let him at least equal anyone else in hiking boots. As he would have told anyone, he was a strange mixture of farm boy and intellectual, not proud of it, not defensive about it, just contented.

His graduate degrees were a Master's from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Doctorate from Columbia Pacific University. Yet he claimed that he had been educated by the United States Army, the General Electric Company, Dear Abby, and Ann Landers. And that is what he wished this accounting to declare.

His parents, Chester B. Bahn and Irene E. Schuyler, met as fellow reporters on the Syracuse Journal in 1918. In deference to that background, he himself created this obituary some years past.


Gilbert Schuyler Bahn

have a memory or condolence to add?

Pat Warden

July 25, 2013

He was a wonderful person and a great friend. It was an honor to work with him for the last 15 years.

Holly Sammons

July 18, 2013

I'm sorry to hear about Mr. Bahn's passing. He and I had talked and corresponded this past year in relation to some genealogy work he was doing and he graciously gave our library some diaries. While we never met in person, I enjoyed my interactions with him and got a brief but clear view of his keen mind and inspiring sense of the world. I'm grateful to have had that opportunity.

My condolences to his friends and family.

Erin Hickey, Funeral Director

July 5, 2013

Thank you for giving me the honor of serving your family at such a delicate time in your lives. Gil seems to have been such a fascinating man. I'm sure I would have loved to have met him and to have become more intelligent for the experience.
I wish the best for your family.