Sandy Bumgarner

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Sandy's Place - Why he loved it here


Sandy Bumgarner, well-known in IOTA for a variety of reasons, died today after a five-year bout with cancer.  He is survived
by Sherry, his wife of 19 years; a sister; two children and one granddaughter by his first marriage; Sherry's two children 
and eight grandchildren, whom he considered his own; extended family; and by many, many friends.
I first knew him through common occultation interests something over 20 years ago.  Many of you first knew him as the guy 
who would modify the PC164 and similar video cameras, to give them manual gain control.  He also made contributions to 
other features of astro-video systems, most notably the IOTA-VTI.  It was his decision to make a custom printed circuit 
board for that device (which had been created by Dave Gault and Tony Barry, in Australia ), and his engineering skills 
were primarily responsible for the package that resulted.  And for its evolution over five years.
He developed bladder cancer in 2010, but that seemed to be successfully handled with a minor procedure.  However, when it 
returned, in mid-2011, tests revealed that his body was "riddled with tumors," especially in the spine.  The survival 
prognosis given was 4 to 12 months.  
I often thought of Sandy as a rebel.  Something in high school irritated him, so he left, and never graduated.  But after
a stint in the Air Force he obtained an electrical engineering degree.  Being left-handed, his emoticons were read by 
rotating left -- but you had to know that for it to make sense.  His interest in astronomy was certainly jacked up by 
living for several years on Mt Hamilton, the site of the Lick Observatory, where his father was head of maintenance and 
his mother taught school.  And he was outgoing, for several years taking on the persona of Hiram Morgan Hill, a nineteenth
century pioneer for whom the city of Morgan Hill, California is named, during annual community celebrations of the city's 
founding.  For a number of years he taught beginning astronomy at two community colleges, and it especially pleased him that
two of his students continued to graduate degrees in astronomy.  Another avocation of continuing interest was to officiate 
at marriage ceremonies.  He did not keep a record, but thought that the total was probably around 40 or 50, including, most
recently, the marriage of his sister, on Pi Day 2015, and the marriage of a niece in January of this year.  
Much of that energy for life became focused on his cancer, with the result that he survived for 57 months after the 
pessimistic prognosis was given.  When I mentioned a new book that was an excellent review of the history of cancer 
(The Emperor of All Maladies; A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee), in a matter of minutes he downloaded it 
onto his iPhone and began reading.  He chose to undergo aggressive chemotherapy, and may have set records for survival.  
His quality of life deteriorated slowly, and he continued to make significant contributions to the IOTA-VTI until just a 
few months ago.
Sandy was 75 years old.
Walt Morgan

Morgan Hill Celebrates 100

Posted: Sunday, August 13, 2006 12:00 am

Hiram Morgan Hill, played by Sandy Bumgarner, made an appearance at Saturday's barbecue to be the master of ceremonies.

The above was found at..
Little Known Morgan Hill Facts (also links to the above)

Sandy with a student during class at Diablo Valley College - Pleasant Hill, CA

Grading papers

Sandy waiting for darkness outside the DVC 18" Cassegrain

Walt, Sandy, and myself working on making the 18" work.. November 2007

January 7th, 2008

January 26th, 2008 - Art Lucas from Stillwater, OK to see the scope Sandy was so excited about..

aka 'Me and the Three Amigos'

Sandy at the September 2008 IOTA Meeting talking about his favorite subject.. Video Cameras.. EMCCD in this case

Another IOTA Meeting - July 2011


This is a great loss for anyone who met him and his smile, who heard his great stories, or experienced his great joy of 
life in general and Astronomy in particular.
I met Sandy, shortly after I found IOTA. In many messages, both to the group and offline, Sandy is who I referred to as 
“Mr. Anonymous” or “The Anonymous One”. He was always available to provide advice and encouragement, as well as keeping me
in line when needed.. He was like a Father to me. 
One of the first cameras I got from Sandy, was a ‘Bumgarnered’ PC23C. With his gain mod, it is still quite a capable camera
for lunar occultations..
One day, Sandy asks me if I “want to do something with ?”  Yep!.. 
When I flocked my 12” LX200, it was done in one of Sandy’s classrooms, where I was privileged to assist him during Classes
for a short time, which is as close to an Astronomy course as I have been. I had a blast doing that, in addition to helping
making things easier on Sandy..  
When I had to move out of my place in Martinez, I was set to leave to meet with a guy about a place out in the California
Delta when I got an email from Sandy telling me to “hold on, I might have a place for you!” This was surprising.. This is 
the first exclamation point Sandy had ever sent to me, as far as I can recall.. I met with the man in The Delta and handed
him a deposit even.. But “if I get home and have an email from Sandy it’ll be the easiest cash you ever made”.. 
Sure enough, an email from Sandy says I can have the place and he was quite happy about it.. So I drove to the address.. I
loved it so much, I never exited the car to look around.. Wifey got out, looked around, and talked to the people who where
moving out.. I just prayed and waited until Wifey returned and said she loved it.. 
I have since named it BREIT IDEAS Observatory – Morgan Hill, CA, but it will always be Sandy’s Place. He loved it here and 
with good reason. 
Wifey wanted to renew our wedding vows for our 20th Wedding Anniversary, which Sandy was very happy to do in the front yard
of his favorite place..
Thank You, Sandy.. 


*** Unless otherwise noted, the following photos are all taken on Sandy's property near Morgan Hill, California ***

Sandy after presiding over our 20th Anniversary renewal of our marriage vows in the front yard of 'Sandy's Place'

R-L is Me, Julie aka 'Wifey', her friend Kathy from Martinez, and Sandy

The Happy Couple - awaiting Sandy's arrival with 'Chamber of Commerce Weather'

Chesbro Reservoir with Mount Hamilton / Lick Observatory in the distance -

Looking North - taken 100 feet north of Sandy's Place

Lick Observatory as seen from the front yard with a 90mm refractor

The view to the West from where the 12" scope is located

Snow to the East on the ridge on the other side of Morgan Hill

Looking South down the driveway towards The Dome

The Dome Sandy built

A Wild Turkey

Some deer in the back yard looking to see what Wifey will feed them next


A Western Diamondback


$%#&$ Gopher


This is a perfect spot for one of these.. My 12 inch telescope..


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