Harmon Ray Taber Sr.

By February 23, 2011


Jan. 23, 1927 – Feb. 20, 2011

Born Jan. 23, 1927, at the Woodland Clinic Hospital, Mr. Harmon Ray Taber Sr. passed peacefully at his Davis home on Feb. 20, 2011, at the age of 84. He was third of the three sons of Esther Bresee Taber and Merlin Jay Taber Sr. of Capay. His great-grandfather brought his family to California in the early 1850s and settled in the Capay Valley in 1867. Taber attended Capay Union Grammar School, became an Eagle Scout and graduated from Esparto Union High School in 1944, where he had played football and tennis.

Ray began studies at Stanford University under the Naval V-12 program at age 16. He enlisted in the Navy in January 1945 and served until July 1946 (discharged with the rank of Electronic Technician’s Mate 3rd Class.) On Feb. 15, 1947, he married Betty Jean Stephens of Esparto. In 1948 he graduated from Stanford with a B.S. in geology, having done field classes at Candelaria, Nev., and Hollister, Calif.

After working on the family almond ranch, he returned to Stanford for graduate studies in engineering. He took a position with the Bridge Department of the California Division of Highways in June 1950, and moved his family to Davis.

In his time at the Bridge Department, Ray teamed with Ret Moore to literally “write the book” on bridge foundation studies. He left the Bridge Department in 1956 to join Mr. Moore as a principal in the firm Geo-Engineering, which soon became Moore & Taber. In 1974, Moore & Taber divided into two firms; the Northern California entity was renamed Taber Consultants in 1983.

A registered civil engineer, Ray was a leader in the emerging professions of engineering geology and geotechnical engineering, and was California certified engineering geologist #12. He was the last remaining founder of AEG, an international association of engineering geologists, where he served as president in 1963-64.

Ray traveled extensively for both business and pleasure. Work assignments took him to Puerto Rico, Belize, Brazil and Japan. He took many trips around the United States with his wife, including a drive to Alaska, and made several visits to both Europe and the Far East.

Besides his professional associations, Ray was a longtime member of the Kiwanis Club of Davis, and served as president in 1987-88. He was a member of the Masonic Order and served as Master of Landmark Lodge.

Preceded in death by his wife Betty Jean, Ray is survived by his son Harmon Taber and wife Greta of Capay, his son Andrew Taber and wife Kim of Davis, his son Frank Taber and Sandra Greene of Sacramento, and his son Stephen Taber and wife Sharon of Woodland. Also surviving are grandchildren Stephenie Carlson of Davis, Lucas Taber of San Diego, Brian Young of West Sacramento, Miles Taber of West Hollywood, Ben Taber of Oakland, Alex Taber of Sacramento, Will Taber of Natomas; and great-grandchildren Cassidy, Sweden, Sydney, Mallory and Finn.

A graveside service will take place at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 25, at the Capay Cemetery, 24727 County Road 22 in Esparto.

Enterprise staff

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