Deceased April 17, 2014

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In Memory

(William) Brian Bedwell suddenly passed away on April 17, 2014, in Palo Alto, Calif., as a consequence of a stroke. Brian was born at Pontiac State Hospital (or the Eastern Asylum for the Insane, as Brian with his sarcastic sense of humor loved to tell people!) where his father was a physician. Later, the family moved to Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., where Brian attended school, played with his sister Penny and friends by the lake, worked in summer odd jobs, and learned to love and play the guitar, banjo, and Appalachian music. Friends and colleagues remember him as an accomplished musician and singer. After graduating in chemistry from Amherst, for a few years he taught chemistry at the American School in Lugano, Switzerland. as a launch pad for visiting Europe and North Africa. When he returned to the United States, he earned and received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan.

Brian's career was in the corporate research and development branch of Allied Signal, then Honeywell, in a few start-ups, and lastly at SRI International, in Menlo Park, Calif., a research organization originating from Stanford University. Brian was known for his superb technical knowledge, skills and capabilities that led to innovation, process improvement, and solutions for practical industrial problems. One former boss described Brian as a "rock-star" within the corporation, sent "to solve the problems that nobody else knew how to approach." Brian is remembered as perceptive, adaptable, resourceful, and generous in sharing his skills with colleagues. He was also an excellent mentor to his colleagues and to the students and interns with whom he worked. Friends, colleagues, and family also remember Brian's humility, his calming influence, and his dry sense of humor. Brian's most profound concern was the challenge of using science and technology for the progress of humankind within a context of respect for nature and world ecology. His most recent projects at SRI International focused on themes related to the prevention and mitigation of climate change and water conservation.

Brian's view of our world and of the human beings within it, was characterized by a sharp, clear and focused perception of reality, which he applied to both his professional and private life. His approach to life and its problems was direct and honest even when the truth was not pleasant, although this view was tempered by an inherent kindness, respect and sense of humor.

He loved a few friends and his family, but he was a private and solitary person for most of his life. He met Lorenza as a fellow scientist and colleague. She became his companion and friend in science, nature adventures, and life for the last 14 years. They shared many projects at work and at home, including that of being married.

He leaves Lorenza, his wife; Penelope Friedman, his sister; Thomas Friedman, his brother-in-law; their children, Martha and Joshua, with their families, and an extended Italian family. Family and his close friends miss him dearly.

Lorenza Moro
Penelope Friedman