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Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Friday, July 29, 2005
Author/Byline: Clayton Woullard , Rocky Mountain News
Edition: Final
Section: Business
Page: 15B
Howard Garcia’s love of the outdoors could have easily eclipsed the star he studied for a living.

For nearly 30 years, Mr. Garcia rode his bike to the NOAA Space Environment Center in Boulder, where he worked as a solar physicist.

He ran. He swam. He skied.

“The best conversations I had with my father were on ski lifts,” said daughter Lori Garcia-Meredith.

Mr. Garcia died Sunday while participating in the Boulder Peak Triathlon. The exact cause of his death has not been determined. He was 76.

Garcia-Meredith said her father got into triathlons late in his life – Sunday’s was his sixth – but that he had been an athlete all of his life.

In addition to his daily commute by bicycle, Mr. Garcia took a long lunch so he could pedal to the local recreation center to work out.

“He was really into his work, but he was really into his play, too,” Garcia-Meredith said. “He did everything intensely, whether it was skiing or bike commuting.”

Mr. Garcia was born May 4, 1929, in Denver. His father was a Methodist minister, which Garcia-Meredith said was ironic because her father was always secular.

“His only faith was science,” she said.

Mr. Garcia attended East High School in Denver and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado. Soon after, he moved to Washington, D.C., to attend Georgetown University, where he earned a Ph.D. in astronomy and met his wife, Doris Garcia.

He returned home to Denver and worked for Martin Marietta for six years until he began his career at NOAA’s Space Environment Center in 1976.

There he studied the effects of the sun on the Earth’s atmosphere. Before he retired in 2003, Mr. Garcia was working on a project that focused on proton storms from the sun.

“I think he enjoyed an intellectual challenge. He liked any kind of challenge – physical or mental – and solar physics is definitely a challenge,” Garcia-Meredith said.

Mr. Garcia also was politically minded, lending his opinions in the form of editorials criticizing the Iraq war and the government, as well as defending secular humanism. The editorials were published in the Boulder Daily Camera and on his Web site at He was this renaissance man,” Garcia-Meredith said. “Whatever he was working on at that particular moment was his most important thing. . . . He was dedicated, but he was dedicated to all kinds of things.”

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Garcia is survived by two sons, Steve Garcia, of Bakersfield, Calif., and Mark Symns, of Ventura, Calif.; another daughter, Britt Douglas of Boulder; two granddaughters; and one grandson.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made in Mr. Garcia’s name to any population control or environmental organization.


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