OBITUARY for Ed Oakes
Edward Henry Oakes, Ed Oakes, died suddenly on December 27, 2020, of a heart attack while recovering from ankle fusion surgery. He is survived by his wife and companion of more than 48 years, Kathy Oakes and by his sister Barbara Joren. He was preceded in death by his father, mother, and older sister Catherine Oakes.
Ed was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1949 to Esther Henrietta Oakes and Henry Edward Oakes. Shortly after graduating from high school in 1967, he moved with his mother to Las Vegas. There he started hiking and backpacking with a group from the local Sierra Club throughout Nevada, Utah, the Grand Canyon, and the high Sierras. Ed came to love the landscapes of the West and decided to major in Geology at UNLV. It was there that he met his wife-to-be, Kathy in 1972, while they were both teaching non-credit adult education classes. Ed received his B.S. degree from UNLV in 1972.
Ed’s two joys were spending as much time as possible outdoors and teaching geology. He taught credit and non-credit classes on geology wherever he lived. His credit classes were at the University of Wyoming, Torrington Community College in Wyoming, Roane State College in east Tennessee, and Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno. From 1976 through 1979, he was an instructor at a six-week geology field camp in southern Nevada that drew students from universities throughout the country. Ed taught non-credit adult education classes at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and Reno and at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno.
Ed enjoyed canoeing, mountain biking, backpacking, tennis, pickleball, and birdwatching. He became a talented photographer of birds, especially birds in flight. He took beautiful photographs of insects, flowers, and his beloved western landscapes. Ed was working on his latest photography show: Black and White Photography of the West the morning he died.
Ed received his M.S. Degree from the University of Wyoming in 1977. His thesis was Geologic Mapping of the Northern Grapevine Mountains, in Northern Death Valley, California, from which he published two professional papers in the Geologic Society of America.
Ed worked for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) for most of his career: from 1977 in Oak Ridge Tennessee and later in Reno. In Tennessee, he managed a multi-year project through Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop a technique to rapidly assess mineral-resource potential on public lands. Ed testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Parks and the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Reserved Waters on the reauthorization of the Wilderness Act.
After moving to Reno in 1982 and until his retirement in 2008. Ed worked on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Yucca Mountain Project and managed the SAIC office in Reno.
Ed especially loved teaching at the Osher Life Long Learning Institute (OLLI) at UNR. His first class was a four-part class on geology with a field trip. He went on to give over 50 classes and presentations about geology and science at OLLI over the last ten years of his life.
Ed loved being around people and was genuinely interested in their life stories. He had a smile a mile-wide that could light up the room, if not the universe. He had a gentle teasing nature and a knack for always making people laugh. Ed was full of life and a delight to be around. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.