George Galbreath, a longtime economics professor who helped establish the Faculty Senate (now called the Academic Senate) and Cal Poly Federal Credit Union and was the first recipient of Cal Poly Pomona’s Outstanding Teaching Award, died June 15. He was 86.
Galbreath taught at the university from 1953 until 1992, a period that saw the institution grow from a small, rural agricultural college to a major university in the CSU. He started teaching in the social science department and was instrumental in the establishment of the economics department. Later, Galbreath helped create the College of Business Administration, which was spun out of the economics department.
When he arrived at the university, Cal Poly Pomona was an all-male institution. Among Galbreath’s nonteaching duties was chaperoning dances at the Kellogg House Pomona, where female students from other schools were bused in to dance with the male students.
Over the years, Galbreath gained a reputation as a great instructor who befriended many of and inspired many of his students. The students were what kept him coming back to campus.
“Not just because their needs were so great, which they were, but because they were the nicest, friendliest people I ever knew. It has been a heavy responsibility and privilege all these years to be trusted with teaching them,” Galbreath recalled when he retired in 1992. “I never left the classroom for higher administrative positions because teaching seemed to the most important thing I could do.”
Even after retirement, Galbreath maintained an office in the economics department and came in regularly. He rarely missed a department event and also participated in many university activities. He also established an endowment for an annual scholarship that has benefited 20 economics students.
Born in 1926 in Marysville, Calif., Galbreath grew up on his family’s farm in nearby Live Oak. During World War II, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps at the age of 17 and received engineering training. He participated in the atomic bomb testing program.
After the war, he returned to help run his family’s farming business. Galbreath also earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations and a master’s degree in economics from Stanford. He did additional graduate work at UC Berkeley and the Claremont Graduate University.
Galbreath was a member of the Southern California Economics Association, American Economics Association, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
He had one son and three daughters with his beloved wife Pat, who preceded him in death in 2005. Galbreath is survived by his children, four grandchildren, two great grandsons, and a brother. A graveside service was held June 20 at Oak Park Cemetery in Claremont.
(Photo: George Galbreath)