William Barnhart Jr.
October 4, 2013
William (Bill) Barnhart Jr. was born Feb. 24, 1925, in Hollywood, Calif., and passed away on Sept. 26, 2013, in Grass Valley, Calif.
His early interest in electricity was reflected in his operator licensing including use of Morse Code and construction of a HAM radio as a young teenager. He also loved music and assisted his mother Mabel during Hollywood Bowl Amphitheater events.
After graduating from Hollywood High, Bill enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Radar was a new technology introduced mid-World War II. Bill served from 1943-45 as a Submarine Base radar installer and trainer in Groton, Conn., followed by two wartime patrols on the Pacific Fleet submarine USS Ray, based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
After World War II, Bill attended Stanford University, participating in numerous folk music and dancing events. He graduated in the class of 1950 with a degree in electronic engineering.
He began his career as a television broadcast industry engineer with KTLA in Los Angeles. All TV was broadcast live at the time, and Bill was involved in remote broadcasts of numerous sporting events, even a nuclear bomb test in the Nev. desert.
In the mid-1950’s, Bill joined Ampex Corp. in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was involved in the development of the first commercial TV broadcast industry videotape machines. He spent several months in Russia during 1959 as a videotape engineer at the American Exposition in Moscow.
There are several pictures of Bill running equipment behind Russian Premier Nikita Kruschev and Vice President Richard Nixon. Bill was on the engineering team that designed early commercial grade portable (vs. studio) TV video recording equipment.
Bill moved to Nevada City in 1967 to join The Grass Valley Group (GVG) as employee #12. Bill setup and demonstrated GVG products for many years at TV Broadcast Industry Trade Shows nationwide. He was deeply involved in the Nevada County music scene, including Nevada City Theatre musical productions, Cornish and Victorian Christmas instrumental and choral groups, Nevada County Concert Band, and Trinity Episcopal Church Choir. Bill was known by many as a perpetually cheerful, friendly and social guy.
He is survived by son John Barnhart of Elk Grove, Calif.; daughter Shirley Rodriguez of Reno, Nev.; niece Nancy Struble of Nevada City; nephew Dirk Miller of Incline Village, Nev.; and eight grandchildren.
Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Ilse Barnhart (former Nevada City Planning Commission, NC City Council, and Nevada County Board of Supervisors known forhistorical ordinances that made Nevada City more attractive for tourism — died 2002).