James Birk

Return to Class of 1959

James Birk05/26/2009
James R. Birk, 67, passed away May 26, 2009, in California. He was born in Knoxville, to Philip and Genevieve Birk, on July 10, 1941.

He was a graduate of Knoxville High School in 1959, Iowa State in 1963, and Purdue University in 1967, earning a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry. Jim was manager of Advanced Technologies at Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., until his retirement in 1998.

He was responsible for funding countless research and development projects that were instrumental in improving the quality and efficiency of energy production.

Jim's passion for improving the national energy picture ultimately drew his focus to hydroelectric power.

His broad expertise in energy technology made him a much sought-after speaker, a participant in government-industry panels, and a frequent contributor of technical articles for the E.P.R.I Journal.

Jim was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1996. He continued to
pursue his many interests—cycling, supporting collegiate and Olympic wrestling, and traveling to visit family and friends. Jim was an avid organizer of family reunions—leaving everyone with joyous memories.

Jim was committed to his friends. Perhaps foremost was his loyalty to his high school graduating class of 1959—Knoxville High School.

His frequent visits to Knoxville always involved social gatherings with '59 alums. It was a close-knit class, and Jim was part of the glue that held it together.
He enjoyed life, and it's somewhat comforting to know that he did not have to endure for a very long time when he could not pursue his many interests.
James BIrk
Jim is survived by his wife, Sandy, of Sunnyvale, Calif., and four children, Lianne, John, Jim II (Jackie), Linda (Robert), and grandchildren. He is also survived by a brother, Philip (Beverly), and sister, Diane (Fred), and other family and friends.

Donations in his memory can be made to The Parkinson's Institute, 675 Almanor Ave., Sunnyvale, CA, 94085, or USA Wrestling, 6155 Lehman Dr., Colorado Springs, CO, 80918.

The memorial service and reception will be at the Sunnyvale Community Center, 550 E. Remington Dr., Friday, June 19, at 10:00 a.m.