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Full Bert Bulkin obituary furnished by the Bulkin family

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Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 10:55 am | Updated: 11:16 am, Wed Mar 14, 2012.

Following is the full obituary as furnished by the Bulkin family.

Bertram Raoul Bulkin was born on July 20, 1929 in Brooklyn, New York. His father was a tailor from the Kiev region now making his way in the schmate (clothing) business in America; his mother had immigrated from London's East End with her parents as a child. Bert grew up mostly in Brooklyn and in Red Bank, New Jersey. With a future engineer's eye, he watched Buck Rogers serials and dreamed of space travel, contenting himself in the meantime by "fixing" perfectly-functioning wind-up clocks and other devices.

Bert was graduated from John Marshall High School in Los Angeles at age 16 and then completed his B.S. in aeronautical engineering at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA); he later completed postgraduate work at UCLA and the University of Santa Clara. Between the end of World War II and the onset of the Cold War, he tried his hand at carpentry and other jobs before the industry revived. He then took a position as a detail draftsman at Lockheed's Burbank plant and was promoted to design engineer. After being granted a security clearance in the mid-1950s, Bert worked on a series of secret launch missions under Projects Corona, Gambit, and Hexagon, later declassified. Breakthroughs in space-based photography associated with these and other programs led to the discovery of Soviet missiles stationed on Cuba. Bert was later director of advanced project development for ITT's electro-optical division in Fort Wayne. After returning to Lockheed in the early 1970s, he made his mark as Lockheed's project manager for the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched on April 24, 1991.

In 1992, Bert retired from Lockheed as director of scientific space programs. He had relocated to Woodbridge, California, where he loved to hold court with his neighbors, visiting friends, and family, playing a round of golf whenever possible and imbibing the local wine. From 1998 to 2000, Bert served on the National Academy of Science's blue-ribbon panel to examine options for extending the life of the Hubble telescope. He also spoke at clubs and schools around the country on discoveries made through the Hubble and their importance for the future of science and the story of humanity.

Interviewed after the Hubble launch, when Bert was asked what scientists ultimately hoped to see through the projected, he said simply, "God."

Bert was preceded in death by his parents David and Anne Bulkin, his sister Shirley Katz Livingston, his first wife Bernice Horn, and his later wife Carolyn Walker. He is survived by his widow Margaret Reed Talbot; his sons Steve, Bruce, Keith, David, and Carl; his daughter Stephanie; by nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren; by his many nephews and nieces; and by a circle of family and friends that widened continually over many years. We will miss his colorful stories, his wisdom of spirit, and his generous affection. He wanted to make things work better and taught us to want the same. He died on Saturday, March 10, 2012 at Lodi Memorial Hospital of multiple health complications.

A celebration and remembrance for Bert Bulkin will be held on Tuesday, March 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Oak Ridge Vineyards, 6400 E. Highway 12 in Lodi. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in his name to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum via the Smithsonian website or by mail to the Smithsonian Institution, Contribution Receipt Center, P.O. Box 9016, Pittsfield, MA 01202-9016.

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