Merle S. Bashor

Dec 26, 1925 - Apr 25, 2016


December 26, 1925 – April 25, 2016 Merle S. Bashor, who spent his life helping friends and neighbors and made a career of delivering water and power to Californians, died peacefully Monday, April 25, 2016. He was 90 years old. Born in Denver to Jesse and Opal Bashor, Merle and his family moved to Los Angeles when he was 2 years old and settled in the San Fernando Valley. In 1951, he married Marjorie Kritchen, his loving wife. Merle earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Southern California and was a lifelong Trojan. While still in high school, he demonstrated his acumen for science and engineering by making a stink bomb and lighting it near a building air intake, causing all the classrooms to be evacuated on the day of a big test. Merle is survived by his wife Margie, sons Larry (Susan) of Bakersfield, Jon (Elizabeth) of El Cerrito, and Bob of Fair Oaks; grandsons James (Primavera) of Bakersfield, Colin of El Cerrito, Cheri Payne (and Family) of Fresno & great-granddaughters Tylyn and Mya of Bakersfield, and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister, Shirley Baker. In 1954, he began working for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, rising to become manager of the Valley Steam Plant, which generated electricity for the region. In 1967, he joined the California Department of Water Resources as Division Chief of the Southern San Joaquin Field Division of the California Aqueduct and moved his family to Bakersfield. His purview extended from Kettleman City to the Tehachapi Mountains, where water is pumped higher, faster, and in greater volume than any other place on earth, up nearly 2, 000 feet as it heads to the Southland. In 1984, Merle accepted a position with DWR in Sacramento and he and Margie soon moved into a house he designed (his third) in Fair Oaks. He retired from DWR in 1991. Starting in his teens, Merle developed a penchant for internal combustion engines and consistently tweaked and rebuilt engines for cars and boats. In the 1940s and ’50s, he raced modified heaps and exotic sports cars on city streets (blocking off side streets for a clean shot down San Fernando Rd.) and exotic sports cars on tracks around Southern California. One of his accomplishments was shoehorning a Chevy V8 into a small Allard chassis and competing a rare Nardi Danese Italian roadster. He later helped his oldest son Larry race stock cars (preferably ’67 Chevy Chevelle Malibus) in Bakersfield. When his middle son Jon wanted help rebuilding a VW engine, Merle was at first reluctant to tangle with the foreign technology until he saw it had horizontally opposed pistons – similar to the aircraft engines he ran up on the test bench at Lockheed during the early days of World War II, before he joined the U.S. Navy. His ability to fix things made Merle the go-to guy for neighbors who needed help with projects. With his metalworking shop, extensive collection of tools, welding equipment and seemingly endless supply of hardware, Merle could repair almost anything, or even make a new part if needed. Once, to keep his kids from fighting for the tallest token when playing Monopoly, he got out his micrometer and used his lathe to turn out a second token precisely the same height. In his later years, Merle took up jewelry making, producing elegant gifts for family and friends. About the same time, he also developed an interest in blacksmithing, became a member of the California Blacksmith Association and attended conferences & events around California. He was also committed to teaching others to be better managers. For many years, he taught evening classes at Bakersfield College. At an early age Merle got involved in Boy Scouts, which lasted well over 35 years, at one point he received the Silver Beaver Award for his service. On many weekends, he was a volunteer with the Southern Sierra Council B.S.A., helping to train adults to become better leaders of scout troops, and coaching his youngest son. He held various leadership positions in Scouting and helped all three sons become Eagle Scouts. Merle also traveled with Margie to all 50 states, as well as foreign destinations including Germany, Thailand, Malaysia and Bali. Merle also spent time in South Korea, where he worked for several months monitoring construction of massive pump impellers for the California Aqueduct. In one particularly brave adventure in 1969, he loaded the family into the Ford station wagon and with travel trailer in tow, drove from California across the southern U.S. to the Florida Keys, then up to Maine and through Canada and the U.S. back to Bakersfield. The family would like to thank the caring staff at Eskaton Manzanita in Carmichael for their support. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Merle’s memory to Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church, where he was a member and Deacon, or to the charity of one’s choice. Services and a reception will be held starting at 11 a.m. Friday, May 27, at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church, 11427 Fair Oaks Blvd, Fair Oaks, CA 95628.

Funeral Home:
East Lawn Mortuary
5757 Greenback Lane
Sacramento, CA
US 95841

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