Obituary: George Archuleta
We are saddened to announce George Archuleta’s death on Feb. 18, 2023, at the age of 90 years old. He was surrounded by his devoted wife, Dianna, as well as several of his children and grandchildren.
George came from humble beginnings. He was born in 1933 in the small town of Las Animas, Colorado, to parents of Spanish and Apache descent. He and his three brothers grew up in an adobe block home that his father built. Growing up, he faced discrimination in his hometown. But despite any setbacks, he finished high school courses early and began taking college classes during his senior year of high school. He enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17 and served the United States in many ways, including while stationed in Korea. He was first part of the Underwater Demolition Team, now known as the Navy SEALS. Then, he became part of the Marines at the Battle of Incheon. Colonel Nicholson lost his aide during the invasion and George became his new one, just like that. He blew up the sea wall so the Marines could get in. He also became the commander of the sniper groups. When the Chinese overran the troopers, George made the decision to go up over the mountains to get out. Twelve of his command followed and all survived. The main groups trying to get out the same way they came in were mowed down.
After that, George worked with Dr. Steinberg developing the SOSUS Submarine Detection System (sonar) on a private island, Eleuthera.
In September 1951, he was sent to Vladivostok to check on current installations and in December 1951 he was sent to the Dardanelles to locate and install the SOSUS tracking system. As well as assisting in the development of the algorithms for the program, George also did some of the installations as a deep-sea diver. He was discharged from the service in 1953 with a National Defense Service Medal and a Good Conduct Medal.
He attended Notre Dame in July 1954 through the VA program and GI Bill. During the summer, he drove streetcars and buses in Chicago for work. In September of 1954, he transferred to Michigan State and, in 1958, he graduated with a Master’s Degree in Engineering.
He went on to have four children, Terry, Lisa, David and Shelly, with his first wife, Marilyn, whom he met at Michigan State. They lived in Michigan, Cincinnati, Ohio, Bermuda, Michigan again and then California.
From there, George went on to work for various companies in the aerospace industry where he met his lifelong, devoted partner and wife, Dianna, in 1973. They were married for 46 years. Their journey led them to the Silicon Valley of California where he was heralded by Forbes and Inc. Magazines as a “turnaround king” of a then-slumping business sector and two failing companies, Vitalkin and Alantec. At Vitalink, he developed the hardware and software Wide Area Network (WAN) and made the first internet connection ever between Boeing, Seattle and Boeing, Wichita. At Alantec, he developed the hardware and software for fiber optics switching. He took both companies public on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Both companies were highly successful and taken over by larger companies. He went on to sit on the boards of a few other companies before retiring in 1999.
He was integral to the technology and connectivity we all depend on and experience today through the internet. He was the right person at the right place and time to the benefit of us all.
With Dianna by his side in retirement, George bought and built a ranch in Wyoming where he continued his passion for aviation, flying everything from a tail-dragger to his own private jet. He also enjoyed fly-fishing and golfing. As in all things, George excelled at recreation.
Through Dianna’s cousin, Dr. Mark Palmer, of Laramie, George became involved with the University of Wyoming. They approached him for a significant donation towards a new turf field. A group of people from the Foundation, including football coach Joe Glenn, flew to Big Piney where George met them and drove them to the ranch. When they asked him for the donation he said he would gladly do so, if they could ask the State of Wyoming to do a “Matching Funds Program,” which the Legislature agreed to do.
George sat on the Foundation Board for three years, but the impacts of Parkinson’s disease made it difficult for him to travel to Laramie and he had to resign.
He shared his homes and passions with many friends and family throughout all his years, even while facing his final challenge of the 2007 Parkinson’s diagnosis.
Like all things in his life, George faced it with an incredibly optimistic attitude, strength and determination. He always led and lived by example of how to handle challenges with a positive attitude. He did how he lived, with ease and strength and his family by his side. Many of the incredible staff of the hospital let George’s family know “how honored they were to be a part of his life in a capacity of comfort and care.”
To say George was larger than life and lived five lives is not an exaggeration. The words “accomplished” or “successful” don’t come close to describing the heights he reached, the numerous lives he touched and the incredibly smart, clever, funny, generous and loving person, devoted husband, father, brother, uncle, grandfather and friend that he was.
We thank you all for the warm and supportive calls, messages and thoughts. To know George was to love him. He is and will always be dearly missed.
He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Dianna, his first wife and mother of his four children, Marilyn, his children, Terence, Lisa, David and Shelley and 10 grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his father, Steve, mother, Maclovia and four brothers, Steve Jr., Richard, David and James, also known as Juma.
George was cremated on Feb. 24. A memorial in June will be determined.