Norman Lee Breazeal was born May 2, 1934 in Wiley, CO on a farm during the depression.
He was married for 60 years to his wife, Juliette, whom he first met in an undergraduate math class during his studies at UCLA. While still an undergraduate, he was drafted into military service, from 1956 to 1958, where he was stationed in Germany. He travelled extensively in Europe while there. He had superior vision and was a skilled marksman from his time growing up hunting. His test results in the Army qualified him to pursue Officers Candidate School, but he wanted to remain enlisted. He led an artillery unit where he was known for the speed and accuracy of his firing solutions. One of his fondest memories was winning his 5th division fitness and mental acuity contest, for which he won a free trip to the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. After his military service, he resumed his studies at UCLA and earned his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in Mathematics.
He had a 30-year career at Sandia National Labs. He began his career working at the Albuquerque, NM facility, and in 1971 he moved with his young family to work at Sandia National Labs in Livermore, CA. He was a highly successful defense weapons systems analyst, working with supercomputers, to solve tactical and strategic problems for national security. Solving these problems required innovations that synthesized knowledge from the physical sciences and a wide range mathematical field. Throughout his career, Norman was a visionary problem solver that met every new challenge with intense focus and relentless drive. His first project made major contributions to the understanding of German and Soviet military doctrine. One of his most important projects was AURORA (A Utility for Representing Offensive Rocket Attacks). The project required optimizing the deployment of an extremely large number of autonomous vehicles according to a wide range of distinct strategies. At the time, solving the problem via computer was considered unworkable by most experts, but Norman, as he so often did, saw a unique path to solutions, and with his coding group, he was able to complete the project in record time. He was recognized as one of the first distinguished members of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories for continued outstanding contributions in characterizing and modeling threats to the US and its allies. His final project was in 1996, a $40M effort in the computations department to realize a model of the next generation of manufacturing for the United States. In doing so he leveraged early developments in AI and machine communication to develop a fully realized agent architecture that integrated customer requirements development, materials identification, design, fabrication, pricing and delivery.
An avid history buff, and inspired by his wife’s ancestors’ immigration to the US from Korea, Norman spent 10 years post-retirement researching Korea’s pre annexation history and of the resistance movement against the annexation of Korea by those exiles who escaped to Hawaii. Much of this involved studying and cataloging historical documents that Juliette’s grandfather, Ho Young Ham, brought with him from Korea while fleeing the Japanese occupation in the early 1900s. This culminated in a significant donation to UCLA’s Special Collections of Research Library archive of rare historical documents of Korean immigration and Korean modern history. A team of nine Korean scholars surveyed the Ho Young Ham books, photos, manuscripts, etc. to ultimately produce a book titled the “The Ho Young Ham Papers”. From these efforts, Ho Young Ham was recognized as a Patriot of Korea, posthumously.
Norman loved the game of chess as well as all sorts of outdoor activities including camping, 4-wheeling, hunting, skiing, golfing, and hiking. He was a DIY enthusiast from masonry to carpentry. He was also a proud and dedicated father to his two children, William and Cynthia. He loved coaching both in tennis, soccer, and STEM where each excelled and pursued highly successful technical careers. William Breazeal is a US patent examiner and Cynthia Breazeal is a MIT professor in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.
He died July 1st due to complications from Multiple Myeloma, a result of radiation exposure during his career.
He is survived by his wife, his son, his daughter-in-law (Dianna Saelee), his daughter, his son-in-law (Robert Blumofe), and his three grandsons (Ryan, Nathan and Caleb Blumofe).
He died peacefully in his sleep with his wife and children at his side. Donations can be sent to the Asbury Methodist Church in Livermore.
Memorial services will be held Saturday, July 10th at 2pm located at Asbury United Methodist Church, 4743 East Avenue, Livermore, CA 94550.