Contributed by Dr. Melissa Guynn
Edgar George Conley, 72, of Las Cruces, NM, passed away on June 28, 2018 after an extended illness and a brief stay at La Posada, Mesilla Valley Hospice, in Las Cruces.
He was born in Detroit, MI to Dorothea Yates and Edgar Conley on November 9, 1945. He worked for several years after high school, but having realized the importance of education, he enrolled in community college and later transferred to Michigan State University where he earned BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Engineering Mechanics.
He served on the faculty of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, for two years, but then he heard the call of the desert southwest and relocated to Las Cruces in 1988, where he served on the faculty of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at New Mexico State University for 30 years. He had not retired at the time of his death, as he had hoped for a reprieve from health concerns and a return to the classroom and laboratory.
His research interests were diverse but generally addressed difficult measurement problems, particularly in experimental solid mechanics. Topics studied over the years included wind turbines, glaciers, artificial hip implants, and most recently, rocket engines, which combined his interests in both space and engineering. This work arose in conjunction with his being awarded a fellowship in the NASA Administrator’s Fellowship Program, for which he spent 12 months (2008-09) on the Mississippi Gulf Coast doing research at the Stennis Space Center. In earlier years, he worked as a summer faculty research fellow at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, NM, and at The Boeing Company in Seattle, WA. He also designed a machine to remove tumbleweeds and light trash from roadways.
In recent years, he taught a seminar course designed to help undergraduate majors with aspects of transitioning from the university environment to professional employment. He also taught undergraduate design courses, including the popular Mechanical Design, where he emphasized a hands-on approach with students designing, building, and testing various structures. It was not unusual for him to be contacted by former students to thank him for his support, enthusiasm, and influence. In recognition of his commitment to students, he was awarded the NMSU Donald C. Roush award for teaching excellence in 2012.
His hobbies included photography and all manner of outdoor activities (windsurfing, tennis, hiking, biking), and he was frustrated in recent years not to have had the energy to pursue them.
He is survived by step-daughter Heather Luna (Howard), and step-granddaughter Elsie, of the UK; sister Laureen Burch (Don), niece Denise Bahs (Jess), nephew Tim Burch (Jennifer), and four great nieces and nephews (Evan and Shannon Bahs, Aiden and Alexis Burch), all of Michigan. He is also survived by many beloved friends, including his close friend of 15 years and partner by his side at the end, Melissa Guynn of Las Cruces.
At his request, cremation has taken place, and his remains will be scattered at Lake Lansing, the lake in Michigan where he learned to windsurf many years ago. A memorial ceremony will be held in the College of Engineering early in the Fall 2018 semester. Contact the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering for details.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial scholarship at the NMSU Foundation has been set up in his name. Donations to the Dr. Edgar G. Conley Fund can be mailed to the NMSU Foundation, P.O. Box 3590, Las Cruces, NM, 88003. Checks should be made out to the NMSU Foundation with his name indicated on the subject line.
Arrangements are with La Paz – Graham’s Funeral Home, Las Cruces. To sign the online guest book, visit www.LaPaz-Grahams.com.