In Memoriam: Jack L. Bacastow

Jack L. Bacastow, a long-time resident of Los Alamos and Santa Fe, died on September 15, 2020 at the age of 95, surrounded by his loving wife of almost 69 years, Diane (nee Janicek), their two children, Laurie and Daniel, and Daniel’s wife, Shelley Bacastow (nee Bacon). Jack is also survived by his loving family, including his brother Wesley Bacastow of Duluth, Georgia and his sister Pat Stoker (nee Bacastow) of Arlington Heights, Illinois, and his grandsons, Sean Bacastow of Los Angeles, California and Ryan Bacastow of Chicago, Illinois, as well as many nieces and nephews. Jack was preceded in death by his parents, Alvin and Mary Esther Bacastow (nee Gribble), and his brother Ronald Bacastow of Downers Grove, Illinois.

Jack was born in Arkansas City, Kansas, on August 25, 1925. He was raised in Western Springs and Brookfield, Illinois and at the age of 17, in March of 1943, following early graduation from Riverside-Brookfield High School, he volunteered to join the U.S. Navy to fight in World War II.

During his service in the Navy, he was assigned to the U.S.S. Kitkun Bay, CVE-71 (a small escort aircraft carrier) as an Aviation Ordinance Petty Officer Second Class. While on board the Kitkun Bay, he participated in the invasion of Leyte, Philippines and the Battle off Samar on October 26, 1944, as a member of the storied and decorated task force “Taffy 3.” Jack was proud of his service and the legacy of Taffy 3 and attended many of his ship’s and Taffy 3’s reunions, including the final reunion in October 2019 in San Diego celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Battle off Samar.

Jack worked as a research technician in the Naval Reactor Division of Argonne National Laboratory, from 1950 to 1959, and then in the Nuclear Reactor Division at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory from 1959 to 1970.

Jack attended New Mexico State University’s College of Engineering and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering in 1972, and was always proud of his Alma Mater, where he was a member of the Phi-Kappa-Phi, Eta-Kappa-Nu and Tau-Beta-Pi honor societies. He returned to Los Alamos National Laboratory in December of 1972 and joined the Safety Group, where he served as Deputy Group Leader under three different Group Leaders. Jack had primary responsibility for the Los Alamos operations at the Nevada Test Site. He retired from the Laboratory in 1990 and moved with Diane to Santa Fe in 1992.

Jack was a Registered Professional Safety Engineer, a life member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, a life member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, an emeritus member of the System Safety Society, and a life member of the R&D section of the National Safety Council. Jack was an over 40 year member of the American Society of Safety Engineers and its New Mexico Chapter, and received its Lifetime Achievement Award, and continued until this year to regularly attend its quarterly meetings and to volunteer his time and experience.

Jack was a proud blood donor, donating over 17 gallons of blood during his lifetime to help others. He was a generous and kind man, never met a stranger, always had a kind word for those who encountered him and always tipped generously when out to lunch or dinner with Diane at his favorite Santa Fe restaurants. He loved to hike in the mountains and monuments of New Mexico, worked to better the environment and protect wildlife, and was a generous donor to many causes related to animal welfare. Most of all, he was a good, caring man who will be missed by all who knew and loved him. Services will be private with a portion of Jack’s ashes to be interred at the Santa Fe National Cemetery in honor of his service to his Country.

Contributions in Jack’s memory can be made to The United States Navy Memorial, (, 701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20004-2608, or to Española Humane (, 100 Hamm Parkway, Española, NM, 87532, Attention: Karl Ferguson.



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Published in Chicago Tribune on Sep. 20, 2020.

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