Retired staff member Bill Babb, who served the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department for more than 30 years, passed away December 17. He was 67.
Born April 16, 1954 in San Mateo, he grew up in Corning and graduated as salutatorian from Corning High School. He attended University of California, Berkeley, on a full scholarship and graduated with a degree in genetics in 1976. Babb conducted lab research at Stanford University for a few years before he moved to Chico in 1978 to continue his studies at Chico State, completing his master’s degree in biological sciences in 1983.
While working toward his master’s degree, Babb was hired by the University as an instructional support technician in 1981, the start of a 32-year career in what was then known as the Department of Geological and Physical Sciences.
“Bill was a valued member of our department, keeping labs and logistics running smoothly,” said Professor Dave Brown. “A patient, kind person, he was always a calming influence even when circumstances sometimes turned hectic.”
Department Chair Todd Greene said lab techs are often the unsung heroes of science classrooms and Babb was a great example of that. With a sense of humor and helpful spirit, he was well-liked among faculty and students and considered a great resource.
“He always made sure the department was running smoothly and provided all the resources necessary for GE and major labs, which number quite a few for upper- and lower-division,” Greene said. “He was a hard worker and made sure everyone had what they needed. And he was our go-to person for any problems that would come up, as he would offer whatever he could to problem-solve.”
Babb was promoted to instructional support technician II in 1996 and continued in that role until his retirement in 2013. He also was a part-time lecturer from 1978–80 and 2007–09 and taught biology at Butte College.
“Bill was a pretty quiet guy but an important part of the department. He was always ready to help and was genuinely curious about what you were doing,” said Professor Russell Shapiro. “But I really liked when I got to visit him after he retired and talk about his restored Airstream and other projects he was working on. His eyes were always smiling.”
An outdoor enthusiast, Babb also enjoyed biking, hiking, and camping for much of his life. His adventures took him on cycling trips from the Tour of the Unknown Coast in Humboldt County and The Death Ride circumnavigation of the California Alps to pedaling in Italy, as well as backpacking in California and summiting Mount Whitney, Mount Shasta, and Half Dome.
He is survived by his father, Evert Babb; wife Julie; children Andrew, Katie, Allison, and Bryan; two grandchildren; brothers Ed and Tom; half-sister Lori; half-brother Joe; and numerous extended family and friends.
A memorial service was held January 29, and he was buried at Glen Oaks Memorial Park. The family requests donations in his memory be made to the Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Foundation.
The University flag will be lowered Thursday, February 10, in his memory.