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Mary Ann, Betty, and Jim Beyster

More than 10 years ago, we started this blog to provide Dr. J. Robert Beyster with a place to connect with current and former employees of SAIC—the company he founded in 1969—and to continue to discuss his revolutionary brand of employee ownership. Now, more than two years since his passing, we expect this to be the final J. Robert Beyster blog posting. After May 31, 2017, the blog will be transitioned to an inactive status and comments will be closed.

On behalf of the Beyster family, we would like to thank each and every one of you for your comments and participation over the years. And more than that, we would like to thank you for all the love you have shown for this truly great man: Dr. J. Robert Beyster.

On April 21, the UC San Diego Library held a very special celebration of the opening of the archives of J. Robert Beyster’s papers in the UCSD Library Special Collections. The collection includes more than 200 boxes of documents covering more than 50 years of hundreds of advanced scientific innovations, small- to billion-dollar business experiments, and discontinued to transformational government program development. The earliest items in the collection are laboratory books from Dr. Beyster’s University of Michigan engineering undergraduate courses and his early scientific papers in the nuclear engineering fields.

The event was attended by the Beyster family and their guests, and several speakers talked about the importance of the papers—which will inspire and inform students, scholars, business owners, and others for years to come—and their own personal experiences with Dr. Beyster. These speakers included Brian Schottlaender and Lynda Claassen from the UCSD Library; John Fratamico, CTO, Leidos; Eric Hazard, SVP, SAIC; and daughter, Mary Ann Beyster.

During the course of the ceremonies, Mary Ann Beyster previewed a new documentary film, Enterprising Owners, which will introduce the idea of employee ownership to a younger generation of business people and students.

UCSD Library Special Collections has created a finding aid that can be used to easily search Dr. Beyster’s archives. The finding aid can be accessed via this link:

The photo at the top of this post is of Mary Ann, Betty, and Jim Beyster, and the photos below this post are of two of Dr. Beyster’s close SAIC colleagues and friends, John Fratamico and Eric Hazard (proudly holding a Beyster Book in his hand).

Photos courtesy of Dan LaSusa, UC San Diego

John Fratamico, CTO, Leidos
Eric Hazard, SVP, SAIC

Beyster Fellows in SFO
On behalf of the Beyster Family and Foundation for Enterprise Development, we are pleased to make final postings in the coming months on Dr. Beyster’s blog. We are excited about kicking off April with a tribute to Bob Beyster and SAIC.

On April 3, 2017, the University of Michigan dedicated its newly renovated Nuclear Engineering Laboratory (NEL). Work to renovate the decommissioned Ford Nuclear Reactor facility began in 2015, and was made possible in large part by a $5 million gift by Bob and Betty Beyster. According to Ronald Gilgenbach, chair of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, “The laboratories in this building will provide the world’s finest university facilities for research in the fields of nuclear measurements for nonproliferation, thermal hydraulics for nuclear reactor safety and advanced radiation detector development.”

The week included the dedication of the NEL and visits by the Beyster family to three engineering buildings. Each of these buildings unveiled displays associated with Dr. Beyster—who earned his BSE, MS, and PhD at the University of Michigan—and SAIC, the company he founded in 1969. The displays include items from Dr. Beyster’s education and career, such as the Underwood typewriter that he used both as a student and many years later in his career, prototype light detectors—digicons—designed by his team which eventually became part of the Hubble Telescope (a digicon is also part of an assembly display at the Smithsonian Museum), and Dr. Beyster’s National Academy of Engineering medal and certificate.

Attending the NEL event and display unveilings were Betty Beyster, Mary Ann Beyster, Jim Beyster, and Lan Beyster. Mindy Pawinski and Bianca Helm worked closely with the University of Michigan School of Engineering on the project, but were unable to attend.

While in Ann Arbor, the group also visited the Henry Ford Museum, and met with Beyster Fellows. An additional meeting with Beyster Fellows took place in San Francisco as pictured in the above photo.

On April 5, 2017, Mary Ann Beyster also participated in a Center for Entrepreneurship conference titled, Women, Entrepreneurship, and Social Change. The conference brought together female trailblazers, pioneers, change makers, and students to showcase the largely untapped and underestimated potential that women have as leaders, entrepreneurs, and a force for social change. Mary Ann screened the trailer for her film, We the Owners, to open her discussion on Employee Ownership being a part of the solution for addressing Income Inequality.

If in Ann Arbor, we encourage you to see the displays and visit University of Michigan’s Nuclear Engineering Lab, the Bob and Betty Beyster Building, and the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering department.

It’s been a little more than a year since the passing of Dr. J. Robert Beyster. While he may have left this world, his legacy continues in many ways. Notably, on December 21, 2015, UCSD announced the donation of the papers of Dr. Beyster to the UC San Diego Library. According to the announcement, “Beyster’s papers, which reflect his passion for entrepreneurship and employee-owner enabled entrepreneurial practices, include correspondence, SAIC business records, committee meeting minutes and materials related to employee ownership, as well as records on a broad range of government-funded research and development, including Strategic Air Command during the Cold War, safety of the International Space Station, critical hull design for a number of U.S. entries in the America’s Cup race, clean-up of Three Mile Island, commercialization of the Internet, and many other transformational programs.”

After the papers are processed, they will be housed in the UC San Diego Library’s Mandeville Special Collections, where they will be made available to scholars, researchers, and educators sometime in 2017. Watch this blog for updates.

We would like to thank Leidos, UCSD Special Collections & Archives, FED, and the Beyster Family for helping to continue Dr. Beyster’s legacy into the future. We have included a photo of Betty Beyster signing the deed of gift, accompanied by two of her children, Jim and Mary Ann, and her dog, Baxter.

Dr. Beyster Papers

Dr. J. Robert Beyster 1924-2014

Dr. J. Robert “Bob” Beyster was many things to many people—gifted scientist, successful entrepreneur and business leader, philanthropist, avid yachtsman, friend, loving father and husband—but above all, he was a remarkable man who changed the world for the better.

Born in Detroit on July 26, 1924, and raised in Grosse Ile—an island community on the American side of the Detroit River—Bob gained a lifelong love of the water at a very early age.

Just as Bob finished high school, World War II broke out, and he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He attended the University of Michigan, graduating with a B.S.E. in engineering and physics. Bob was assigned by the Navy to a destroyer on the East Coast, and then sent to New York City for career testing. After answering a battery of questions, the results came back: “Whatever you do, don’t become a lawyer.”

Bob earned his master’s and doctorate in physics, and then worked briefly for Westinghouse Atomic Power before he landed a job as a research physicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It was at Los Alamos that Bob met the love of his life—Betty Jean Brock—whom he married in 1955. Betty was the anchor that kept Bob well-grounded and happy, and together they raised three children: Jim, Mark, and Mary Ann.

At Betty’s urging, in 1957, Bob accepted a position at La Jolla’s General Atomic, where he was put in charge of starting up an accelerator physics department. Here he stayed until 1969—working on a variety of physics projects. And it was in 1969 that, at the age of 45, Bob used the proceeds from selling some of his General Atomic stock to start up a new company: Science Applications Incorporated (SAI).

The company—later renamed Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)—was an unbridled success, eventually becoming the nation’s largest employee-owned research and engineering company. It was Bob’s deeply held belief that those who contributed to the company should own it that sparked SAIC’s entrepreneurial culture.

After growing SAIC into a $6.7 billion business success—with more than 43,000 employees—Bob retired as Chairman in 2004. But his legacy did not end there. In fact, in many ways he was just getting started.

Not one to stay still for very long, Bob wrote books (The SAIC Solution and Names, Numbers, and Network Solutions), he was a tireless advocate for the virtues of employee ownership (having already founded the Foundation for Enterprise Development and the Beyster Institute), he reached out to the world via his blog, and he—along with his wife Betty—continued to make a tremendous difference in the lives of people in San Diego, and across the nation. Always a scientist at heart, Bob served as a fellow of the American Nuclear Society, chairman of its Reactor Physics Division and Shielding Division, and fellow of the American Physical Society.

The list of universities, community-based organizations, and nonprofits that Bob and Betty have supported over the years is long, and the number of people touched by their philanthropy is far greater.

While Bob garnered many awards and accolades during the course of his life, he was perhaps most proud when the Horatio Alger Association for Distinguished Americans selected him to be a 2008 Horatio Alger Award recipient. He had truly traveled full circle from his humble beginnings in Detroit to industry and community leader.

And he was of course very proud of the role that SAIC played in bringing the America’s Cup back to the United States—using the company’s vast expertise in naval architecture technology to help Dennis Conner defeat the Australians in 1987.

It was on the water that Bob felt most alive, sailing most every week—even in his final months—to destinations near and far, inviting his former SAIC colleagues to join him. As Bob once posted on his blog after one of those trips, “I believe an enjoyable time was had by all.”

Photo Gallery from the Celebration of Life is below (slideshow may take a moment to load):

Photos courtesy of J.Dixx Photography

In Loving Memory

From the bottom of our hearts, we would like to thank everyone who attended Saturday’s Celebration of Bob Beyster’s Life. It was a beautiful and harmonious occasion from the start through the stunning sunset on the patio overlooking the bay. We know that he would have enjoyed it. Here are a few photos from the service.

For those who were not able to attend, thank you again for your condolences. We’ve included the program here and will provide a link in the future when the videos are available.

–The Beyster Family

Photos courtesy of J.Dixx Photography

You are invited to a Public Celebration of Bob Beyster’s Life on Saturday, January 31, 2015, at 2:00 p.m. To attend, please register here.

Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa
1775 East Mission Bay Drive
San Diego, CA 92109

* * *

Dr. J. Robert Beyster – Husband, Father, & Entrepreneur
1924 – 2014

Thank you to the hundreds of friends and colleagues who have shared their stories about Bob. Please keep sending them via the blog.

We are looking forward to bringing his many friends together to continue sharing tributes and stories. To help us plan the event, please register before January 27th!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

The Beyster Family

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