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Eugene “Gene” A. Harlan


1921 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Eugene “Gene” A. Harlan Obituary
TWAIN HARTE, CA – Eugene "Gene" A. Harlan passed away on Saturday, March 29, 2014 at his home. He was 92 years old.
Born in Campbell, CA to George A. Harlan and Mary Esther Smith, Gene was raised on the pioneers' family ranch, homesteaded in the 1880s at Lopez Point – Lucia south of Big Sir, California. He later lived in Monterey, Sacramento, Los Gatos, and on Mt. Hamilton, above Santa Clara County. He retired to Twain Harte 23 years ago, close to his youngest daughter and her family. He loved living amongst nature in more secluded and mountainous areas.
Gene grew up on a beautiful, sprawling coastal cattle ranch, but it was an environment that required hard work and self-sufficiency. He was educated at the one-room Redwood School in Lucia, where he was taught by his mother and aunts most of his elementary years. He graduated from Monterey High School in 1938 with coursework focused on Industrial Arts. His determination and rigorous ranch lifestyle led to varied work experiences, including road construction and timbering in California and Oregon. While working for Capital Machine Works in Sacramento, Gene married Mildred Smith. During World War II, Gene's expertise in machine work was utilized in retooling aircraft engine parts for the Doolittle Project at McClelland Air Force Base. Fascinated by celestial objects, Gene crafted telescopes as a hobby, leading to a 31-year career as an Astronomical Specialist for the University of California, Berkeley and Santa Cruz. Working onsite at Lick Observatory from 1960 to 1991, his research and photographic work were frequently published in Sky and Telescope Magazine. In 1976, he discovered a comet that has been referred to as Harlan Comet 1976g.
Gene enjoyed photography and being out in nature capturing pictures of what he encountered while building new hiking trails. During his time on Mt. Hamilton he often came to the rescue when others were visited by the occasional rattlesnake. He had a collection of "rattlers," and his grandchildren often asked to see and play with them. He loved his pets and enjoyed their companionship throughout the years; he also raised orphaned fawns. Gene had an adventurous spirit, a keen sense of humor, and a love for storytelling of his life experiences. He enjoyed following many sports teams, and was a faithful Giants fan.
Gene is survived by his wife of nearly 72 years, Mildred; two daughters, Beverly Grillo of Twain Harte and Virginia Mancha (Joe) of Reno, NV; grandchildren, Nicole Grillo Agpalo (Brian) and Janelle Grillo of Twain Harte, Raschell Bouldt (Richard) of Roseville, Vicente Mancha of Fremont, Frank Giamona Jr. of Reno, NV, Brenda Rallo (Vince) of Cold Springs, NV, Tara Tarvin of La Plata, MD; ten great-grandchildren and one great-great grandson; brother, Stanley Harlan (Irene) of Monterey; niece, Carmen Harlan-Wood (John) of Pacific Grove; and nephew, Michael Harlan (Susan) of Washington. He was predeceased by his parents, George and Mary Esther Harlan; brother, Donald A. Harlan; son-in-law, Joseph Grillo Jr.; and grandson, Martin J. Mancha.
Visitation will be held today, Thursday, April 3, 2014 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Terzich & Wilson Funeral Home located at 225 E. Rose at Lyons St. in Sonora, CA. Funeral services and burial will take place Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. at Little Chapel-By-the-Sea, El Carmelo Cemetery located at 65 Asilomar Blvd. at Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove, CA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of the Sierra, 20100 Cedar Rd., Sonora, CA 95370, or the Rose Wolf Wildlife Rescue, 22455 Villas Ln., Sonora, CA 95370.
We are thankful for Gene's legacy. He modeled a commitment to life-long learning, family, and good old-fashioned hard work. We are thankful for the family and friends that have supported him and continue to be a source of support to his family throughout this difficult time.
Published in The Monterey Herald on Apr. 3, 2014
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