Michael Whiting Magee (82), a long time Livermore resident, left for his eternal home on March 12, 2021.
He was born Aug. 24, 1938, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth and Francis Magee, of Narberth, Pennsylvania. Active in high school, he participated in rowing, wrestling, and football. Having an interest in science as well, he garnered a Ford Foundation Industrial Arts Award and was a member of the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia.
He spent summers on his father's sailboat, "Fox," with his mother and brother, Ed, on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. As a Boy Scout at age 15, he took a cross-country train trip to the 1953 Jamboree at Irvine Ranch. It is there where he first fell in love with California.
He started his lifelong fire-service career as a volunteer fireman at age 16, with the Narberth Fire Company in Pennsylva-nia. In 1993, he retired as the assistant fire chief at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory .
He attended West Virginia Wesleyan College, where he majored in chemistry and was an active member of the Kappa Al-pha Order. He finished his college education at the University of Maryland, where he minored in industrial management and majored in fire protection engineering (the first graduating class of this degree in the nation). He received his bachelor of sci-ence degree in1962.
The College Park Campus Volunteer Fire Department is what he called home during his college stay, and he quickly worked up to captain in charge of the department's engine and truck company. For those three years, he participated in and even in-structed in numerous fire-service training programs for the states of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.
He returned to California after being offered a summer internship at the ‘Lawrence Radiation Laboratory’ in Livermore, as a fire protection engineer. While there, he met his ‘California gold nugget,’ Lorraine Hamilton. At the time, she was a teacher at East Avenue School. They were married in August 1963.
In 1964, he took employment with the Reynolds Electrical & Engineering Co. at the Nevada Test Site as assistant superin-tendent in charge of fire prevention. Three years later, he was promoted to fire department executive officer. He participated in some of the early high-expansion firefighting foam tests, conducted in West Virginia and at the University of Maryland, and while at the Nevada Test Site, he was responsible for coordinating several research studies into the application of high-expansion foam in radioactive environments. He developed the design criteria for the first high-expansion foam generating system to be installed in a nuclear reactor.
He conducted and acted as test director for the first full-scale Halon 1301 fire-suppression system tests involving electronic equipment for the Atomic Energy Commission in February 1969 and was instrumental in the design and installation of a num-ber of unique Halon 1301 systems.
From 1970 to 1971, he served as coordinator for the LRL Nevada Tower Halon fire tests and formalized the fire-prevention program and initiated the fire-protection engineering program for the Reynolds Electrical & Engineering Co., Inc. at the Nevada Test Site. He also served weekends in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, as a medical technician and was honorably discharged after six years with the rank of sergeant.
In 1971, he returned to the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California as fire marshal and leader of the Fire Protection Engineering Group. He was responsible for the fire protection design of the LLNL Super-Block facility and the high-energy laser facilities throughout the 1970s and early 80s.
Recognizing his vast fire knowledge, he was asked to be an instructor for fire-protection courses at Chabot College. He was instrumental in planning, developing, and teaching the first fire science classes there. He did graduate work at U. C. Berkeley in the area of wildland fire behaviors. He was called upon to do consulting and modeling of fire behavior for the legal community.
He was promoted to assistant fire chief at LLNL in 1986. With Livermore Lab Fire, he led multiple strike teams to events in the local Bay Area and to greater California wildfire emergencies in the 1980s and 1990s. During the Loma Prieta Earthquake freeway collapse (1989), the Oakland Hills Fire (1991), and the Rainbow Fire (1991), his crews saved countless structures and lives.
Mike retired in 1993 to become a ‘gentleman farmer’ with his son. They provided exclusive hay and oats for discerning buy-ers. Together, they loved working on antique tractors and other mechanical projects. Always interested in weather, he collect-ed official rain totals for Alameda County for many years.
He enjoyed working with youth and served as an advisor for Boy Scouts interning at LLNL and was active in the Alameda County 4-H programs as a project leader in the area of crop management, tractors, and swine from 1975 to 1992. He served as Alameda County Fair volunteer livestock barn manager and weigh master from 1986 to 1993. Being part of the Alameda Coun-ty Fair Junior Livestock Boosters Club, he loved to BBQ with friends and serve tri-tip dinners. Coaching boys and girls from 1975 to 1982, Livermore Youth Soccer kept him physically active.
He and his wife enjoyed traveling after their retirement to watch their daughter sing opera in various places around the country. Often, he enjoyed taking time to read about history, science and collecting tractors. Cruises to New Zealand, Alaska and the Caribbean were special vacations, as well as taking trips to Hawaii and Montana with his family.
In his last few years, he enjoyed watching TV, especially American Pickers, and the America's Cup sailing races. To his fami-ly, he had a special sense of humor. He is deeply missed by them, whom he loved and provided for so well.
He battled Alzheimer's Disease with courage and tenacity for over 16 years with help from his family and caregivers, Thomas, Edward and Charlie, and former colleagues and friends.
Michael (Mike) is survived by his wife, Lorraine; son, Edward Magee (Melissa); daughter, Kathleen Magee-Querec (Kyle); his grandchildren, Russell and Lena Magee; and his brother, Edward Bruce Magee.
In his memory, contributions can be made to the Alameda County Fair Junior Livestock Boosters Club benefiting the 4-H and FFA at PO Box 3176, Livermore, CA., 94551. You may Sign a guest book at trib-utes.com/Michael-Whiting-Magee. A small memorial service will be held at the Magee home in April.