The first time I ever heard the name of George Barthalmus was fall 1970, at the beginning of my freshman year at N.C. State. I heard some girls in my Carroll Dorm suite talking about him, a conversation along the lines of, “Did you get him for your BS 100 lab? He is SO cute!” Unfortunately, later when I did take BS 100, I did not “get” him as my instructor. I’d see him on campus over the years, as I pursued my degrees. But it would not be until 1999 that I actually met him, when I returned to campus to interview for a job in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Communication Services. At that time, he was CALS associate dean and director of Academic Programs. Until he retired in 2001—and even afterward, when in “retirement” he became director of N.C. State’s Office of Undergraduate Research — he could be depended upon to provide the names of faculty and students who would make great stories for Perspectives.
Barthalmus started writing not long after his retirement from CALS. “I thought that it might be fun to take some of the odd research happenings in my lab and convert them into a snappy piece of imagination gone wild,” he told me when I interviewed him in 2009 for a Perspectives feature. “By mixing some family stories with ongoing research, I surprised myself and the family. My mother, Mary, really got excited, and before I knew it, she became an inside editor with some good stories.”
He was quite pleased that his labors of love would support scholarships for CALS students: The proceeds of the sales of his books have gone to the George T. and Marina T. Barthalmus Scholarship Endowment for Life Sciences Undergraduates.
It’s in the last couple of years that I’ve really gotten to know him, because, after I did the review of his first mystery novel Revenge Through Me in 2009, he asked if, as a favor, I’d lend an editor’s eye to the manuscript of the sequel, Cassadaga Savants (2010). And just last week, he’d asked me to look over the third installment to the series, Three Cells in a Row. I had marked up the first five chapters this past weekend, we spoke on the phone yesterday, and we were to meet today so I could give those chapters to him.
Dr. B. has passed away, we have just learned. I don’t know any details other than he is gone. And now I don’t want to change a word in that manuscript. – Terri Leith