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Bertram G. Voorhees Jr.


1924 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
Bertram G. Voorhees Jr. Obituary
1924 - 2015 Bertram George Voorhees Jr., of Pasadena, CA, died June 3, 2015, of a heart attack at his home in Pasadena, CA. Bert (affectionately known as BeeGee and "the Gaffer") was born on October 22, 1924, in St. Joseph, MO, the son of Bertram and Adeline Voorhees. He served in the US Army in World War II from 1943 - 46 as a member of the 27th Infantry Division and then the 511th Airborne Signal Corps, 11th Airborne Division, and saw active duty on Okinawa. He went on to receive a BS in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University. For more than 25 years, Bert worked with General Electric (GE), early managing teams developing new equipment for nuclear power systems, later overseeing a portion of GE's aerospace projects, and finally managing GE's Medical Ventures Operation, responsible for developing and marketing innovative medical products nationally and internationally. In 1975, he became VP and General Manager of Analytical Systems in Abbott Laboratories' Diagnostic Division. In 1978 he became VP and General Manager of Becton Dickinson's Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorter (FACS) Division, where his team developed the first commercially available FACS instrument, which revolutionized cell-based research, diagnostics and treatment. At both companies, Bert led significant growth in international business development and product innovation. Late in his career, he served as President and COO of Microgenics Corp., and subsequently as a management consultant to science-based start-ups. After retirement, Bert volunteered for many years on humanitarian construction projects, working with Technical Outreach and Youth With A Mission in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, as well as locally in Pasadena, with Harambee Ministries. Exceptionally accomplished as a professional, Bert will be remembered most as a loving husband, father, brother, grandfather, and uncle who lived out his Christian values and faith. In 1954, while a young chemical engineer at GE, Bert married his wife of more than 57 years, Miriam Reta Sewell. An avid and skilled golfer, Bert warned Miriam that getting married "was not going to change how often he played golf." Time proved him wrong. Together Bert and Miriam raised their three children in San Jose and Los Gatos, CA and Scotia, NY, before finally settling in 1975 in Pasadena, CA. A great fan of family, sports, travel, the outdoors, dining out, and endless card games, Bert loved vacationing in Europe, as well as hiking and playing with his children and occasionally with his nephews and nieces in and around Carmel, Yosemite, and the Sewell family cottage in Ogunquit, ME. In the 1990s, this love of family and the outdoors led Bert and Miriam to buy a cottage on Ashley Lake near Kalispell, MT, where they spent many months each year. Bert also often visited his daughter's family in Plzen, Czech Republic, and frequently spent time with his sister, Nancy, around the holidays. Bert was preceded in death by his wife, Miriam, whom he devotedly cared for in her more than 12-year struggle with Alzheimer's, and by his sister, Suzanne Peake. He is survived by his sister, Nancy Harvey; his children: Bert Voorhees III (Catherine Arias), Dick Voorhees (Paula Lunt), Barbara Foye (Patrick Foye); his grandchildren: Taliessin, Lindsay, Christopher, Amy, Audrey, and Timothy; his nieces and nephews; and many friends who will miss him. Throughout his life, Bert greatly loved animals and made regular visits to the Pasadena Humane Society to visit the animals. The family asks that any donations be made to the Pasadena Humane Society. A Memorial Service is scheduled for 1pm on Saturday, June 27, at Sierra Madre Congregational Church, 170 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre. Cabot & Sons, Pasadena
Published in the Los Angeles Times on June 21, 2015
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