Don C. Union ’50

Don C. Union ’50 died on February 27, 2016, in Carlsbad, California.

(The following was published in the La Jolla Light on March 3, 2016):

Don Union, 87, passed peacefully on February 27, 2016. He was born in Providence, Rhode Island, to Chester and Ruth (Beedle) Union. Don graduated with a B.A. cum laude in Mathematics from Bowdoin, Maine, followed by a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 1952. While at MIT, Don learned about control of industrial processes using Differential Equations of Calculus. He applied these processes starting at GE then Shell, IBM, General Atomic, culminating with Mammoth Mountain’s lifts and gondolas. While working on a project at IBM for Owens Corning, he invented a unique punch card system that became known as the Table-Driven Program. He applied this program using differential equations of calculus solving a critical problem at Owens Corning factories worldwide. The solution he developed was a filter to handle spikes in the temperature of the massive vats of molten glass to prevent dangerous explosions that were maiming and killing employees. After Owens Corning bought 14 of these revolutionary systems, IBM patented the filter as the Union Filter. With the birth of his children with his first wife, Vi Morrison Union, his life expanded to creating community platforms for his children’s burgeoning athletic endeavors. He helped bring Pony League (pairing players based on age) to La Jolla Youth replacing Little League (pairing based on skill.) He also helped create a new softball league including a new field for girls and the same for 4 to 6 year youngsters, called Tee-Ball. Thus, the 70’s were spent coaching baseball, softball, soccer and very active involvement with La Jolla Youth and La Jolla Kiwanis. With his kids raised, Don began a new chapter with Eva Marie Vanderlip on June 1, 1984. They honeymooned by biking throughout Europe for two months staying in B & B’s, highlighted by a thrilling ride in the rain over the Austrian Alps that was culminated by a car stopping in front of them, the occupants jumping out, then clapping with enthusiasm and disbelief at the audacity exhibited by these 50+ year-old crazy Americans. The couple lived in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Cardiff, Mammoth Lakes and Carlsbad. The Mammoth chapter began with Don’s retirement in 1992 and his dream to ski his days away. Don and Eve thoroughly enjoyed an active outdoor lifestyle of hiking, biking and skiing, often with their 130-pound Alaskan Malamute, “Conan.” They returned to San Diego in 2000. Don leaves his wife of 33 years, Eve Vanderlip Union; two sons, Scott (Kaylin) Union and Eric (Julie) Union; and daughter, Marj Vincent. He was also blessed with five granddaughters; one great-granddaughter; along with two stepsons, Kurt (Caitlin) and Brad Vanderlip; and two stepdaughters, Marcia (Scott) Cairnes and Cynthia Vanderlip.