Obituaries

Martin E. Packard

Martin Packard onlineMartin E. Packard died July 30, 2020 of natural causes in his home in Los Altos Hills, California.  He had celebrated his 99th birthday earlier in the year with family and friends. 

He was married to Barbara Packard, who died in 2012, and they built a life together that is a legacy of achievement and inspiration to the friends, family, colleagues and many, many others who knew them and worked with them through the years.

Martin was at heart, and by profession, a scientist. He was a deeply thoughtful man, an innovator who believed that an engaging problem was nothing more than an exciting challenge to help make something that people could use to make their lives better. 

He placed high value on working collaboratively with colleagues and was humble about his own achievements. He often employed his dry sense of humor to put people at ease. 

He worked hard, but took the time to explore a range of interests and avocations from wilderness hiking in the Sierras to a passion for classic automobiles, from volunteering on school boards to organizing loans for minority entrepreneurs, and from winemaking and photography to international travel. Needless to say, he always had the latest electronic gadget in his pocket or on his desk.

Martin grew up in Oregon and moved to Palo Alto at the beginning of WWII. He earned a PhD in Physics from Stanford University in 1949. In 1951 he brought his pioneering work in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to work at Varian Associates, one of the new tech company startups in what would later become Silicon Valley. NMR was the concept that led to many world-changing inventions, including MRI for medical imaging.

As Varian Associates grew into an international electronics firm, Martin helped lead the company, first in research and later in top management.

During his four decades with Varian, he cultivated an international network of colleagues and friends, and he and Barbara combined business and pleasure travel to over 40 countries.

After his retirement in 1989, he turned his energies to the emerging problems of genetic diseases in dogs, and with Barbara and other scientists and veterinarians cofounded the Institute for Genetic Disease Control. 

In his later years, Martin took great pleasure in visiting with and following the lives and accomplishments of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews and many friends, young and old.

He is survived by his son and daughter, George Packard and Jane Packard, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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Deadline: Thursday at noon, for publication the following Wednesday (6 days later). If a holiday falls within that week, check with us about special publication deadlines. 

For more information and to submit obituaries, email obits@latc.com.

The Town Crier is not responsible for obituary content. Paid obituaries are provided by families or mortuaries. 

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