Cravens (Chris) Lamar Wanlass
1925 ~ 2015

Cravens (Chris) Lamar Wanlass, age 89, passed away peacefully in American Fork on January 6, 2015.

Chris was born October 28, 1925 in Monroe, Utah, the middle child of three boys. He moved to El Monte, California when he was 9 months old and enjoyed a happy childhood there with his parents, Sylvan George and Phyllis Cravens Wanlass, and two brothers. Shortly after graduating from high school at age 17, Chris joined the U. S. Navy, where he was trained as an Electronics Technician and served as a First-Class Mate in charge of radar on the destroyer James C. Owens during World War II. He fought in the Battle of Okinawa, had the distinction of being aboard the first ship into Japan after the signing of the armistice, and received many commendations for his service, including the World War II Victory and Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medals with two bronze stars. Following his discharge from the Navy in May of 1946, he pursued an education, graduating with an MS in Electrical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley in 1951. He married Doreen Moody, the love of his life, on August 30, 1948 in the Salt Lake Temple, and was blessed with three daughters and three sons.

Chris was a brilliant scientist and creative inventor. He did fundamental and groundbreaking research, designing the world’s first airborne digital and transistorized computers, discovering the basis for increasing magnetic memory access speed, making major improvements in power conditioning equipment, and inventing a high efficiency electric motor. He was awarded 38 U. S. patents (also issued in 31 foreign countries) in the computer, power, motor, and generator technology fields. Appointed a Special Professor of Engineering at UCLA, he also held many important positions in industry, including Vice-President and Director of Engineering and R&D for Packard Bell, Director of Electronics Research for Ford Motor Aerospace Division, and Senior Research Engineer for Lockheed and Ramo-Wooldridge corporations, ultimately founding his own companies, Wanlass Electric and Energystics. He was honored as one of the nation’s Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Year in 1960, awarded Robinsons’ Design Award for the Wanlass Motor in 1977, received special commendations from both the U. S. Senate and the House of Representatives for his energy savings work, and was listed in American Men of Science and many other prestigious publications.

Despite his many honors and accomplishments, however, Chris treasured his family most of all. He was a fun-loving dad and grandpa with a great sense of humor, a fantastic storyteller who constantly reminded his grandchildren to “live it up while you’re young” and suggested doing that with a chocolate bar in hand. Chris loved the outdoors, enjoying hiking and fishing when he was young and driving his sports car in the mountains as he got older, but particularly reveled in the sounds of the ocean. Although he loved to travel, particularly in the United States, there was no place he would rather be than sitting on a California beach listening to the crashing of the waves. He had a passion for sports cars (especially German ones), and nearly always had a well-waxed Porsche, BMW, or Mercedes in his garage. Chris was an avid and skilled photographer and passed that love on to all of his children and grandchildren. He will be remembered for his compassion and generosity, his passion for education and learning, his ability and influence as a teacher, his appreciation for the arts and the beauties of life, and, most of all, his love for and devotion to his family.

Chris was a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served in many callings, including as a counselor in two bishoprics, a seminary teacher, and a temple worker in the Provo Temple. His favorite calling of all, though, and one that he held much of his life, was working with the Young Men, upon whom he had tremendous influence as a teacher and friend. He had a profound love for the Savior, and taught his children and grandchildren the importance of treating others with Christ like kindness, forgiveness, and respect. We cherish his example of unselfish service, his reverence for the scriptures, and his deep understanding of the Gospel.

Chris is survived by his wife, Doreen; children Lorraine (Steven) Wood, Annette (Joseph) Jarvis, Janine, David (Julianne), Gary, and Brent; 13 grandchildren; and 6 (almost 7) great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, January 10, 2015, at 1:00 pm at the Highbench LDS Chapel, 910 South Highbench Road, Alpine, Utah. Friends and family may call from 11:30-12:30 pm prior to services at the church. Interment will take place in the Alpine City Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the LDS Humanitarian Services Fund.

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