August 7, 2019

Born in: Charlotte, North Carolina
Resided in: Cortez, Colorado

Bernard (Bernie) White Bell Jr., 70, died August 7th, 2019 at 5:00pm in a fatal car crash outside of Conifer, Colorado. Bernard was born November 11, 1948 in Charlotte, North Carolina to Bernard White Bell Sr. and Dorthoy Grey Jonhson Bell.  Bernard graduated from John Overton High School in Nashville, TN.  He received a Bachelors of Science degree with distinction with a double major in Astronomy and Physics, Masters of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy in Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona in May of 1985. Bernard married Linda Woodruff Wendnagel in 1977.

It was during his time in Tucson that he picked up the art and sport of climbing, becoming a regular at Campbell Cliffs and day climbing in the Catalina Mountains. He also took his first trip to Peru and Machu Picchu, where his love of archeology and astronomy came together. Bernard spent many years studying the ancient Incan observatories throughout Peru, his research leading him primarily to the Vilcabamba region. He returned from his final trip to Peru in July of 2019 and was eager to publish his successful discoveries.

Bernard had a sense of adventure and a thirst for knowledge. He had the vision to see problems in their contextual entirety without losing focus of their constituent details. He had a long and successful career in cutting edge technology.

After finishing his degrees in Tucson, he moved his family to Boise, Idaho, where he went to work as an Optical Engineer in the Disk Memory Division of Hewlett Packard and was responsible for designing and building an ellipsometric tester. He was also  involved in optical data storage investigation and product development, leading a world class project investigation on next generation high performance fixed disk drives. This was done using his invention: an integrated optical magneto optic (MO) head. His head proposal won the design competition held between the groups at HP’s central research labs.  Bernard held a dozen patents and authored and co-authored more than 30 papers in the field of optics.

He loved the Idaho country – where else would there be a beaver dam on the river that runs through the center of town?  Bernard pursued his love of skiing at the local Bogus Basin with kids in tow. In the summer, he would go boating and waterskiing with the kids on Lucky Peak Reservoir.

Following the transfer of technology he helped to develop, he moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado to work for the Optical Products Division of Applied Magnetics Corp.   He then went to work for MOST (Mass Optical Storage Technology) Inc., where he was, first, the Director of R&D Engineering, and, later, the Director of the Advanced Recording Research Group.

In the late nineties, Bernard and Linda moved to Scotts Valley, CA for several years,  and Bernard commuted into San Jose to pursue Near Field Optical Recording with TeraStor Corporation. While there, he enjoyed what the area had to offer – he did everything from racing his car at theThunderhill Raceway Park, to enjoying the Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve at Natural Bridges State Beach, to visiting the Elephant Seal Vista Point outside San Simeon.

Bernard and his family returned to Colorado, this time to a home in Boulder County. While there, Bernard worked for DataPlay Inc. as Senior Director of Optical Systems Engineering.  He architected and led the OPU (Optical Pick Up) design, fabrication, and manufacturing teams from concept to high volume production of the world’s smallest OPU for a novel 32MM diameter optical disk product.

One of his last projects took him to Minneapolis, MN to work on Seagate Technology’s HAMR (Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording) project, where he was responsible for laser diode requirements, specifications and sourcing selection criteria for the program. This took him frequently to Japan and other far eastern shores.

He was passionate about the stars and found himself traipsing eagerly across the Earth to view solar eclipses, June solstice sunrises, comets, and phenomena or alignments pioneered by various ancient cultures. Taking his first of fifteen trips to Peru in 1980, he pursued research of the Archeoastronomy of the Incas in Peru. In addition to field work, he used computer analysis of the data to verify the existence of suspected alignments.  When combined with the historical record left by the Spanish conquistadors, this work has extended the understanding of how the Incas regulated their calendar. He identified previously unknown solar observatories and planned to publish a book.

He was fascinated by Anazazi culture in the southwest, which he pursued when he moved to Cortez, CO in the four corners area. He was interested in applying the techniques developed over time in Peru to a number of ruins in the surrounding area.  He served on the Board of the Society for Cultural Astronomy in the American Southwest for a short time prior to his death.

While in Minneapolis, Bernard launched a journey into the spirit and soul and hoped to find inner peace and a sense of self awareness through becoming certified to teach Kundalini Yoga. In June of 2013, he completed his final requirements, became certified, and was given the yogi name “Jan Inder Singh.”

Bernard valued life in all forms and had a deep love of family.  He is survived by his wife Linda, his son Christopher Alan Bell from his first marriage to Victoria Cauthern Kantor, Christopher’s wife Kimberly Ann Bell and their two children Scarlett Dorothy Bell and Nicholas Lee Bell; and his daughter Pearl Woodruff Bell her husband Carlos Xavier Sandoval and their two children Mateo Austin Xavier Sandoval and Isabella Catalina Grace Tucker-Sandoval.  The oldest of four, he is also survived by his siblings Grant Johnson Bell (his wife Debbie), James Allan Bell (his wife Betty) and Susan Agnes Bell Scott as well as a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

A Memorial and Celebration of Life will be held outside of Boulder, CO at the Sunrise Amphitheatre on August 25th at 10:30 am and Tucson, AZ on November 11th, TBD.  For more information see the online memorial and event page.

The family encourages donations to one of several charities:

  • The Environmental Defense Fund https://www.edf.org
  • The American Civil Liberties Union – https://aclu-co.org/
  • The Society for Cultural Astronomy in the American Southwest (SCAAS)- http://www.scaas.org/
  • Peruvian Hearts -http://www.peruvianhearts.org

Please share memories of Bernard and condolences with his family by signing the online guestbook below.

Memories Timeline

Guestbook

  1. Worked for him for 4 years, he was knowledgeable about so many things, a great loss. When wondering if he’d be upset that I ran over a riser in the riding lawn mower he laughed and said, “I’ve already ran over a couple myself this year”💗 such a sweet man.

  2. Bernie & I went to High School & College at Tennessee Tech. We had some great times together. He was a good friend & always a lot of fun. My condolences to all the family.

  3. Bernie was my older cousin. I’m sorry I did not keep up with him better in our adulthood; the years and miles got in the way. He had such a brilliant mind; what a tragic loss. My heartfelt condolences go to his family.

  4. I have only met Bernard a couple of times at the SCAAS conferences in Cortez and Flagstaff. Bernard was always kind to me. At both of the conferences he came up to me and asked me if I wanted to come with him to Peru to help him document his work in cultural astronomy there. I was very interested, however I couldn’t make it work at that time. If at all possible I would like to fulfill his request and visit some of the sites he was eager to show me. I would like to help document his work. Perhaps some of his writings on his Peru research would still be available. This is such a sad loss I wish I would have taken him up on his invite and gone to Peru in June this year. I’m sure it would have been a once in a lifetime experience. All the best to his friends and family.

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