Joe Burton Linker Jr.
7/23/1923 – 7/21/2016
Joe Burton Linker Jr., age 92, born in Durham, NC, raised in Chapel Hill, NC,
died 7/21/2016. He was a resident of Carol Woods Retirement Community to which he came after having been away from Chapel Hill for 47 years. He was the son of the math professor Dr. Joe Burton Linker and Ione Markham Linker.
At age twelve be became a young business man as the Curtis Publishing Company’s District Agent for wholesaling all the magazines (Saturday Evening post, et al.) in Chapel Hill, a job he held for 8 years. He was a 1935 Charter member of the Chapel Hill High School Band, Trumpet Player. He graduated in the class of 1940. His love of music continued throughout his life as he played trumpet in different College and Village wind ensembles and sang for some 55 years in church choirs and community choruses. He was a devote of the games Go and contract bridge.
He was an Eagle Scout in Chapel Hill’s Troop # 39, spending summers as a Boy Scout Counselor, and continued with active leadership in Scouting organizations even in the 1960’s as advisor to the Virginia Spelunking Explorer Post. His love for the out of doors continued through his life as a runner, long distance swimmer, and hiker. He and his wife hiked extensively in the central Rocky Mountains, the Southeast Mountains, and Canadian Rockies, the eastern Canadian provinces, as well as much of the Appalachian Mountains in GA, NC, VA, New England. They hiked in England, and especially in many parts of Switzerland where at age 53 he climbed the Matterhorn. After retiring he backpacked (carrying 50 lbs) 1200 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, from the
Mexican border to Yosemite and through the North Cascades into Canada, averaging 100 miles a week.
In 1944 he graduated from UNC-CH with a BS in Physics, then was immediately commissioned Ensign USNR receiving technical radar training at Harvard and MIT and was assigned Pacific Sea duty as radar officer on a naval cruiser as World War II came to an end. Returning to graduate school after active duty he was an Instructor in UNC’s Department of Mathematics as he took graduate physics courses pending entering NC State Engineering School. In that first graduate physics class he met his wife to be, Mary Jane Auld. After his first year at NC State they married and lived in Raleigh, she as a physics instructor as NC State while finishing her MS Physics degree. In 1949, he completed his MS in Electrical Engineering and began his technical career at General Electric’s Electronics Laboratory in Syracuse, NY. He was honored to be inducted into Eta Kappa Nu, of Sigma Xi, and later, a Senior Member of IEEE. He was soon licensed as a professional Engineer in New York and became a graduate of General Electric’s high recognized 3-year graduate Advanced Engineering “ABC” Course.
At General Electric his career was spent in advanced development engineering work and its management in electronics and communications. He was a participant in the earliest development of color television, the design of the missile guidance system which was later used for the Atlas Missile, and early microwave technology. In 1958, he joined GE’s Communications Department in Lynchburg, Va. There his project was designing GE’s first microwave telecommunications system for the Southern Railway United States system. Other leading edge technology projects then included design of cable television systems and components for cities, mobile radio and radio systems, cryptographic speech encoding, and the early design of cellular radios and systems.
Linker was active in civic affairs and in his church. He was a past president of the Lynchburg Rotary Club, past president of the Lynchburg SPHEX Club, and First President of the Friends of the Lynchburg Public Library. There he lead the Friends to bring to Lynchburg its first public library, negotiating the challenge of changing interracial relations in the stressful 1960’s. He was a former member of First Presbyterian of Lynchburg and an active member of University Presbyterian in Chapel Hill.
The Linkers had two married children: the late Dr. Joe Burton Linker III (E. Kirsten Lundergan-Linker) of Athens GA, where he was a practicing Rheumatologist and Immunologist, a graduate of Yale University and University of Va Medical School, and Jane Auld Linker (Terrence E. O’Leary) of Greenville, SC, as graduate of St. Olaf College and Cornell Nursing School.
In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his wife Mary Jane Auld Linker. He is survived by his brothers Edward Markham Linker (Late Jean Stone Linker) of Martinsville, VA, Dr. Robert Polk Linker, (Neltie Sanders Linker) of Charleston SC, grandsons Jaan Paul Halbrook (Samantha Cush Halbrook) and Hart Lundergan Linker, two great grandsons, Alex Jacob Halbrook and Connor Lorraine Halbrook, and numerous nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the J. Burton Linker
Distinguished Professorship in Mathematics (100550) at UNC-Chapel Hill,
With checks payable to the Arts and Sciences Foundation, Campus
Box 6115, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-6115, or at http://giving.unc.edu/gift/asf