Beaumont “Beau” Manor Buck

Date of Birth

April 9, 1926

Date of Death

August 22, 2011

City of Death

Santa Barbara

A Naval officer, Arctic Scientist and Texas gentleman.

Born in Port Arthur, Texas on April 9, 1926, Beau passed away on August 22, 2011 in his favorite city of Santa Barbara.

Beau was a very proud native of Southeast Texas, an Eagle Scout and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1948 (BS engineering), Naval PostGradSchool 1954 (BS electronics) and UCLA 1955 (MS physics). He married Ruby in 1949 and had two sons, Manor and Fred.

Beau resigned his commission as a U.S. Navy Lt. Cdr. in 1961 to work at GM-Defense Research Laboratory in Santa Barbara as head of Surveillance Section, Sea Operations Department. He formed Polar Research Laboratory, Inc. in 1973, serving as president until 1988.

Beau’s career centered primarily on underwater environmental acoustics research supporting submarine detection systems and techniques in the Arctic Ocean and the Bering Straits. Starting in 1963 he and his crew pioneered, for the United States, the use of small manned ice camps. They established the first pack ice summer camp in 1971 and first U.S. ice camp in the Eastern Arctic (Greenland-Spitzbergen area) in 1977. This was a pilot experiment for the East Arctic Project. Beau participated in most of the U.S. submarine cruises to the Arctic, between 1960 and 1988. He led 35 scientific expeditions to the Arctic and sub-arctic during that period. He authored over 100 scientific papers on arctic acoustics, and also pioneered development and usage of ice-covered and open-ocean environmental data buoys using TIROS satellites.

He received a Navy Commendation medal (1960) for work at Ice Island T3 during one of the first U.S. submarine cruises to the Arctic. He was also awarded Honorary Membership in the American Polar Society (1977), one of only 30 people selected since 1934, joining such explorers as Admiral Richard Byrd, Dr. Vilhjalmur Stefansson and Dr. Lincoln Ellsworth.

Beau was a commercial, multi-engine and instrument rated pilot. He worked with Jack Conroy on the development of the three engine DC-3 for use in the Arctic. After retiring in 1990 he pursued his hobbies: swimming, pistol target shooting, studying military and western histories, motorcycles, computer graphics, playing self-taught classical guitar, listening to classical music, building and tending his Japanese garden, writing memoirs, investigating family history and writing haiku.

He will always be remembered for his important and lengthy Arctic work. He had a large extended family of arctic comrades, fellow scientists, pilots, engineers and other kindred souls. Some years ago he coined the quite accurate definition for an Arctic Expert as one who has been to the Arctic less than three times or more than twenty times.

Beau is survived by his loving wife Ruby, two sons Manor (Kris), and Fred (Robin) and five grandchildren, Beau (Gabrielle), Brandon, Daniel, Sarah and Lara.

A memorial, celebration of his life will be held October 16 from 2 to 4 pm in the Fleischmann Auditorium at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History 2559 Puesta del Sol, for friends, business associates and family. RSVP: or (805) 964-1464.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite charity or the Humane Society.


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