University of California, Riverside

Bourns College of Engineering



College Mourns the Passing of Rosemary Bourns


College Mourns the Passing of Rosemary Bourns

September 28, 2012

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Rosemary BournsRosemary Bourns, who co-founded Bourns, Inc. with her husband Marlan and for whom the Bourns College of Engineering is named, passed away Wednesday, September 26. She was 87 years old.

"On the UCR campus, Rosemary Bourns' name has become synonymous with the accomplishments of strong and hardworking women," said UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy P. White. "We will sorely miss her quiet smile but she will always be honored through the accomplishments of the faculty and students in the Bourns College of Engineering."

"This is a very sad time in the life of our college," said Reza Abbaschian, dean of the college. "We send our deepest sympathies to the Bourns family for their loss. Rosemary was a dear friend of the college and an inspiration to everyone who knew her. She was a remarkable woman whose warm, engaging nature made her a beloved ambassador for her company, her family and for our college. She was a treasure and she will be dearly missed."

A memorial service is being planned. The Bourns family asks that in lieu of flowers, persons who wish to honor Rosemary's life do so by contributing to The Rosemary Bourns Memorial Fund at the Bourns College of Engineering.

Bourns HallIn 1994, The Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering was named in honor of a generous gift from the Bourns family's foundation. In addition, the west engineering building was named Bourns Hall in honor of their support. Marlan and Rosemary Bourns were also recognized as UCR Laureates in 2000 and the family was honored by the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship with its 2010 Lifetime Award.

Marlan and Rosemary Bourns began their electronic components manufacturing company The Bourns Laboratories in the 384-square-foot garage of their home in Pasadena, Calif., in 1947. Together, they grew the company (now Bourns, Inc.) to become a global leader in its field.

Now headquartered in Riverside and led by their son, CEO and Chairman Gordon Bourns, the company employs more than 4,000 people around the world. Gordon Bourns also serves as chairman of the college's Council of Advisors. In addition to Gordon, Rosemary is survived her husband Marlan, their daughters Linda Hill, Anita Macbeth and Denise Moyles, and 14 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Bourns Family at Commencement 2012Marlan and Rosemary were most recently at the college with members of their family to participate in the 2012 commencement ceremony on June 18, where Marlan was honored as a Fellow of the College. Rosemary is pictured here (foreground, left) with UCR Chancellor Timothy P. White, Dean Reza Abbaschian, and her extended family after the ceremony.

In December 2011, the Bourns family was on campus for the dedication of a portrait that depicts Marlan and Rosemary in the garage where they began the company. The portrait was commissioned by the family as a gift for Marlan's 90th birthday in May 2010. Copies of it are on display in the Student Affairs lobby in Bourns Hall, in the dean's suite in Winston Chung Hall, and at the College of Engineering – Center for Environmental Research and Technology, which is adjacent to Bourns, Inc.

Bourns Family Portrait DedicationBelow is the text of the plaque that accompanies the portrait:

"Beyond our wildest dreams..."

Marlan and Rosemary Bourns cofounded The Bourns Laboratories in 1947 from meager beginnings in the garage of their home in Pasadena, California. In testament to the exemplary vision and the sound values they established as well as the dedication of many talented employees, Bourns, Inc. has grown to be a highly respected worldwide company employing over 4,000 people manufacturing electronic components and modules for industrial equipment, automobiles, telecommunication systems and consumer products. Marlan and Rosemary Bourns established the company core values: providing high quality products and responsive service while treating employees with respect and adhering to the highest standards of integrity.

Marlan and Rosemary BournsThis portrait was painted in 2010 by renowned artist Scott Methvin, in recognition of Marlan's ninetieth birthday. The setting for the painting was the replica of the garage located in the courtyard of the company's Riverside, California Headquarters which contains many of the engineering and marketing tools they utilized in the early days. Sitting at his first drafting table, Marlan reminisces about a photo taken before they were married and a blueprint of one of their first products, a "Dual Linear Motion Potentiometer with Switch." Resting on the photo are two of their aerospace transducer products, a vane potentiometer and a linear motion potentiometer. The Whitman's candy box they converted into their first product sample case lies next to Marlan's slide rule and his drafting triangle. Rosemary is seated next to her wood desk they made from a shipping create on which are the original company financial ledger for which she is responsible, and the manual typewriter she utilized to create the early product specification sheets and price lists. A Sears, Roebuck and Co. drill press and a South Bend lathe, used in producing the early products, can be seen in the background along with two miniature cars, one electric and one gasoline powered, built by Marlan while growing up on his family's farm near Milford, Michigan and the scooter he built to drive around Pasadena while working at Cal Tech before they were married.

Marlan and Rosemary marvel today about how the company they started in their garage has grown beyond their wildest dreams ... and about the many exciting opportunities which lie ahead. -- Presented by The Bourns Family on December 8, 2011

Marlan and Rosemary Bourns

Images of the Bourns family on campus through the years:

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University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
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