Robert Edward Mayes
Robert Edward Mayes, 89, of Oakland, passed away peacefully at Summit Hospital on Wednesday, January 30, 2019, after a long illness. He was born April 9, 1929, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, son of the late Edward and Anne Elizabeth (Richter) Mayes.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Trinity College, Connecticut in 1950, Robert served in the Army from 1951-53, as an instructor in the Sixth Army’s Chemical, Biological and Radiological Defense School at the Presidio of San Francisco. From 1954-57, he worked at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and the University of California Radiation Labs at Berkeley and Livermore, where he was a test engineer working with nuclear hot cells on, among other projects, a proposed nuclear-powered aircraft. He married his wife, the late Rita Mary (Balmer) Mayes, who also worked in the Rad Labs, in Danville in 1956. After graduate study in Boulder, Colorado and San Jose, he worked on the Polaris missile program for Lockheed Missiles and Space Division in Sunnyvale from 1960-61.
Robert moved to Germany in 1961, where he was employed by GETSCO (seconded to the West German air force, overseeing the NATO air weapons control display system), and was a freelance writer on aerospace issues for Flugwelt Verlag, a German aviation magazine. His son, Adam, was born in Balingen in 1964. He returned with his family to the United States in 1966 (on the RMS Queen Mary), and worked briefly as an aero engineer for Sperry Rand in Great Neck, New York, before joining the civil service in 1967 and shifting into computer systems analysis. After several years at the Concord Naval Weapons Station in California, he moved to Germany for a second time in 1971, where he reached the GS-13 civil service grade while employed at U.S. Army Europe Headquarters (USAREUR) in Heidelberg, West Germany, and travelled widely throughout Europe with his wife and son. After returning from Germany in 1977, he worked for the Department of the Navy (on production of the Phalanx anti-missile system in Pomona, California, and at the Concord Naval Weapons Station), and in San Francisco as a regional computer specialist for the Department of Labor, before retiring in 1998.
Robert loved Oakland A’s baseball and ham radio, space exploration, and science news of all kinds. As a home electronics hobbyist, he built a theremin in 1957 and a KIM-1 computer in 1976, and later was a volunteer ham radio operator for many years in the Oakland Radio Communications Association’s emergency radio network.
He was predeceased by his wife, Rita, formerly of Manchester, Connecticut. Robert is survived by his son, Adam Mayes of Oakland and New York; his brother Rev. Edward Robert Mayes and wife Marlene of West Hartford, Connecticut; and his niece Rebecca Mayes Goldberg of Avon, Connecticut, nephews Jon Mayes of Middlebury, Connecticut, Tim Mayes of West Hartford, Connecticut, and Ben Mayes of Lebanon, New Hampshire, and cousin Jack Richter and wife Brooke.
A private viewing and cremation will be held on Monday at Chapel of the Chimes, Oakland February 11, 2019.