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Posted on May 11, 2018 | 11:50 p.m.

Dr. Robert Vartan Meghreblian of Montecito, 1922-2018

Source: Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapels

Dr. Robert Meghreblian was an active leader in the Montecito community and a stalwart member of the Santa Barbara Club. (Meghreblian family photo)

Dr. Robert Vartan Meghreblian passed away peacefully at his Montecito, California, home on April 22, 2018. He was 95.

Bob was born September 6, 1922, in Cairo, Egypt, to the late Mary (Kurkjian) and Vahan Meghreblian and came to the United States in 1923. He attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Gotshall-Powell scholarship) in Troy, New York, beginning in 1940.

He joined the newly established NROTC program in 1941 and received his BAeE in 1943 and his ensign's commission in 1944. During World War II, he served primarily on the escort carrier USS Makassar Strait and participated in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Bob was discharged in 1946 and worked a short period in the aircraft industry, followed by two fascinating years at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory learning and researching with some of the early pioneers in rocket science. One of the projects he participated in evolved into the Sergeant ballistic missile.

Moving on to graduate school, Bob spent three years at Cal Tech as a Guggenheim fellow studying with Dr. Hue Shen Tsein. They shared a marvelous relationship, and Bob received his Ph.D. in 1953.

Bob decided to pursue his interests in atomic energy for rocket propulsion, and was accepted into the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. On the day he arrived, Bob was shocked to learn that instead of being a student in the program, he had been appointed to the faculty. Bob taught at the school for three years and developed the foundation he later used to write a book with colleague David Holmes entitled Reactor Analysis, one of the first in its field.

Bob spent the next 13 years at JPL, beginning as the chief of the Physics Section and concluding as the deputy assistant laboratory director for the Technical Division. During his time, his division delivered the science payloads for many spacecrafts, including the Surveyor, Mariner Mars IV and Viking.

Bob finished his career in the corporate world, working for Cabot Corporation in Boston, Massachusetts. He began his work as director of Technology, spent several years as the president of its LNG business, and concluded his career in 1987 as the director of Planning and Development for all of Cabot.

Once retired, Bob moved to Montecito, where he married Margaret Gordon. In Santa Barbara, he was involved in many community activities. Highlights include the Montecito Association (1992-1998), Montecito Planning Commission (2003-2006), Montecito Citizen of the Year (2002), and many years at the Santa Barbara Tennis Club, where he continued to play competitive tennis into his late 80s.

Bob’s greatest joy later in life came from the Santa Barbara Club, where he was an active member for many years, managed the Art Foundation and served as president (2009-2010). He helped evolve the club into what it is today, including Friday Night Dinners, interior renovations and an expanded membership.

Bob enjoyed a wide variety of other interests, including oil painting, stamp collecting, learning to speak French and working on his HO model train layout, which he had built over the span of 30 years.

He truly was a rocket scientist and will be greatly missed by his family and friends.

Bob is preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Mary J. “Toni” Walton; and his brother, Edward Meghreblian. He is survived by his wife, Margaret Gordon, son David Meghreblian and his wife Toni, daughter Susan Dunlap and her husband Mark, and grandchildren Jack and Micah Meghreblian and Nick and Luke Dunlap.

Private services will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for a donation to be made to the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics or to the Capps Center, both at UC Santa Barbara.

Arrangements are by Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapels.

 

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