Edwin Byron Stear

Date of Birth

December 8, 1932

Date of Death

September 21, 2017

Edwin Byron Stear of Santa Barbara, California died at 6:10 am on Thursday, September 21, 2017. Born December 8, 1932 in Peoria, Illinois to Edwin J. and Juanita B. (Hoffman) Stear, he was 84 years old at the time of his death. He was laid to rest in the family plot at Christ Church Cemetery, Hanna City, IL on Saturday, September 30, 2017. Following the service, family members gathered at the Stear farmhouse in Peoria to celebrate Edwin’s life and accomplishments.

Dr. Stear was preceded in death by his parents, brother James Stear, sister Mary Stear, his stepson James N. Rogers, and his first wife, Alice Faye Curry, beloved mother of his natural children, Brian D. Stear and Linnea S. Hernandez.

Surviving are his wife and companion of over 40 years, JoAnn Stear (Weston, Rogers, Pinero), children Brian D. Stear (Louise Kennedy) of Peoria and Linnea S. Hernandez of Inglewood, California, brother Richard A. Stear of Peoria, and four of the five step-children brought into this blended family when JoAnn and he married. Their stepfather for more than half of their lives, James N. Rogers (Kim Wilgus), Gary P. Rogers (Arlene Simmons), Valorie J. Cole (Wayne), Steven C. Rogers (Suzanne Paquette), and Virginia L. Aguilar (Arthur), Dr. Stear had 14 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren in the blended families when he passed away.

Dr. Stear graduated from Bradley University, Peoria, IL in 1954 (BSME), USC, 1956 (MSME) and UCLA, 1961 (Ph.D.) Electrical Engineering. His varied career included Professor of Electrical Engineering at UCLA and UCSB, 1969-1979, and Chairman of the Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, UCSB, 1975-1979; Chief Scientist, U.S. Air Force, Washington. D.C., 1979-1982; Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, 1983-1990, and Founding Executive Director of the Washington Technology Center, University of Washington, 1983-1990; Corporate Vice President for Technology Assessment, the Boeing Company, Seattle, 1990-1999; Research Staff Member, Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), Alexandria, Virginia, 1999-2017.

Dr. Stear was a Fellow of the IEEE, AAAS, and AIAA. He was awarded two Exceptional Civilian Service Medals from the U.S. Air Force, and in 1980 the Bradley University Distinguished Alumnus Award. For many years he served on the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, and technical committees in support of NATO.

Dr. Stear enjoyed being a home chef, oil painter, reader, jazz lover, woodworker, winemaker, and learner. The subject he was studying late in his life was Quantum Theory.

For over 30 years, Mrs. Stear and her family were deeply involved with Dr. Stear in his dream avocation as owner and senior winemaker of Eaton Hill Winery, formally established in 1988 in Granger, Washington. After years of labor (1984-1988) to make the historic Rinehold Cannery into a winery with its vineyards and orchards of apples, pears, and cherries, Gary and Arlene Rogers produced prize-winning wines with Edwin for 14 years. They also established the Rinehold Cannery Homestead Bed and Breakfast in the Rinehold’s farmhouse. They were followed as host by Mrs. Stear’s sister, Norma J. Jackson, until illness forced her retirement. The Bed and Breakfast closed in 1994. Mrs. Stear, Operations Manager, was also then from 2002, principal winemaker with Edwin, Steven Rogers, and several local winemakers, aided by the Vineyard and Orchard Foreman, Manuel Soliz. Virginia Rogers Aguilar was the Accountant and Assistant Operations Manager for 25 years. The business was sold late in 2012 but licensing regulations and requirements of the new owners continued the Stears’ involvement until 2014.

Dr. and Mrs. Stear moved to Santa Barbara from Zillah, Washington on April 3, 2017, into the Vista del Monte Retirement Community, where Dr. Stear died of complications of Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinsonism. The family is grateful to the staff at VDM and Assisted Hospice Care for their professional care through these months, and the subsequent services of McDermott Crockett Mortuary of Santa Barbara and the Wilton Mortuary of Peoria, Illinois.

Words are inadequate to thank family members and friends for the help and daily support they provide. In Zillah, when downsizing and moving to Santa Barbara was time critical, Virginia and Arthur Aguilar and Manuel and Rosie Soliz made it happen. In Santa Barbara, Valorie and Wayne Cole and their extended families unpacked and set up the Stears’ apartment in Vista del Monte, where Mrs. Stear will continue to live. A special note of thanks to Valorie’s son Aaron Avila and his family for their help on both ends of the necessary move, and to her daughter Sarah Avila Battle for her decorating skills. Edwin and JoAnn stepped off the plane into a beautiful new home where Valorie continues to provide loving support each day.

Dr. and Mrs. Stear established a Scholarship Fund at Bradley University in honor of his family. Memorial contributions may be addressed to “The Edwin J. and J. Blanche Stear Family Endowed Scholarship”, Bradley University, 1501 W. Bradley Avenue, Peoria, IL 61625. Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.thewiltonmortuary.com


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