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George Galbreath

Professor, economics scholar, inventor

George Galbreath, a longtime Claremont resident, died on June 15, 2013. He was 86.

Mr. Galbreath was born on October 25, 1926 in Marysville, California to Beverly “B.J.” and Almyra “Mae” Galbreath. He grew up in nearby Live Oak on a farm, where he helped his family tend their peach, walnut and almond orchards.

At age 17, Mr. Galbreath joined the US Army Air Corps, with his father signing the permission slip since he was underage. Quickly recognized for his intelligence, he was sent to Oregon State University’s Army Specialized Training Program in mechanical engineering and then to Stanford University, where he received a certificate of engineering in the Army Specialized Training Program.

As the war advanced, he was attached to the Navy, where he participated in the atomic bomb testing program and served in the Adjutant General’s Office. Upon being discharged from the 509th Composite Bombardment Group in 1946, he joined with 4 of his brothers to become a managing partner of Galbreath Brothers Orchards.

He continued to further his education, earning a bachelor’s degree with distinction in international relations from Stanford University and a master’s degree in economics, also from Stanford. Mr. Galbreath did additional graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley and the Claremont Graduate University. When Mr. Galbreath was on break from school, he would head back to work on the Galbreath farm and it was there, in 1952, that he met his future wife, Patricia.

Mr. Galbreath began his teaching career with brief tenures at Stanford Community College and Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo. He moved to southern California in 1953, where he began teaching at Cal Poly University,  Pomona. In 1955, he and Patricia were married. They welcomed their first child, Robert Galbreath, a year later. Over the years, they added 3 daughters to their family, Karen, Janice and Linda.

Over Mr. Galbreath’s 39-year career at Cal Poly, Pomona, he served as chair of the social sciences and economic departments and founded several other departments. He won many awards for teaching and scholarship and was one of the first 2 recipients of Cal Poly’s Outstanding Professor award. Mr. Galbreath also edited numerous books and presented papers throughout the world. He notably traveled to China—speaking and publishing articles on international trade, finance and monetary systems—and was awarded an honorary professorship at the Institute of Trade and Finance in Kunming, China. 

Mr. Galbreath was a past president of the Southern California Economics Association and maintained membership in the American Economics Association, the International Atlantic Economics Association and E Clampus Vitus as well as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

In his spare time, Mr. Galbreath was an inventor, who freely shared his contribution to energy-saving and storage devices. His children recall him tinkering on the back patio, following his creative muse. He also loved camping with his family.

Mr. Galbreath is remembered as an upbeat person who rarely complained. At his recent memorial service, relatives and colleagues alike related a common memory: Whenever anyone asked Mr. Galbreath how he was doing, regardless of any challenges he might be facing, he inevitably answered, “Fair to middling.” He will be deeply missed, family shared.

Mr. Galbreath is survived by his son, Robert Galbreath of Gardnerville, Nevada; by his daughters, Karen Galbreath and Janice Alvarez, both of Rancho Cucamonga, and Linda Wilson of Killeen, Texas; by his brother, Allan Galbreath of Sacramento; by 4 grandchildren and by 2 great-grandsons.

Contributions may be made to the George Galbreath Scholarship Fund, c/o the Department of Economics, California State Polytechnic University, 3801 W. Temple, Pomona CA 91768. For information, call 869-3842.

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