A Reno family’s tribute to the passengers of Galaxy 203

Lockheed L188

A tribute to the passengers of Galaxy 203, that ran in the Gazoo on the 20th anniversary of the tragedy. Sadly, the plaque mentioned was recently stolen from the memorial garden at Rancho San Rafael.

“Hi Karl: I read yesterday’s column which was a follow up to your column on Oct. 14 about the crash of Galaxy Flt. 203 here in Reno in 1985. It brought back many memories and I thought I would share with you a personal story involving my family.

“After the tragic crash, my mother and grandmother, Doris Isaeff and Geri Kaufman, had the idea for a permanent memorial of some kind here in Reno for the victims and the lone survivor. They finally settled on the idea of a grove of trees with one tree for each of the 71 people on board the flight that night. They opened a special bank account and asked for donations to purchase the trees and a plaque. I don’t know how much they were able to raise, but with help from Washoe County Parks and Recreation, a grove of trees was established at Rancho San Rafael Park and a plaque was placed there with the names of all the passengers and the flight crew. I don’t think the goal of 71 trees was ever reached, but a very nice grove of trees, most of them evergreens, is still there along with the plaque.

“After reading your column yesterday, my wife and I went to the park today to check out the Galaxy Memorial Grove which is located east of the ranch house off the old entrance road to the park from Sierra St. Over the years some of the original trees didn’t survive, but the grove nonetheless is still a lovely spot in memory of those who perished and the one who survived. If memory serves me correctly, George Lamson, Jr., the sole survivor, was present at the dedication of the plaque, but I don’t remember now the exact date of the dedication. There is probably a newspaper story about it in the RGJ archival files.

“My grandmother passed away almost five years ago, and my mother no longer lives in Reno, but I know they both were very proud of the part they played in helping to create the Galaxy Memorial Grove so that future visitors to Rancho San Rafael Park might remember the events of that tragic night in Reno history.”

Bill Isaeff

One thought on “A Reno family’s tribute to the passengers of Galaxy 203

  1. Hi Karl,

    I’m really loving reconnecting with you and your writing!  At the time of the Galaxy crash I was employed at Ross Burke on Kietzke.. and had the privilege of final preparation of many of the passengers and crew, including George, Jr’s Dad, George Sr.  Recently I did some research and connected with George, finding out that he lives in Reno and works for the Atlantis.  He was hesitant to “friend” me on Facebook until I explained my connection.  Since then, we’ve had some wonderful conversations.  About a year ago I stopped in and met him at Atlantis. I believe today at 3pm PST Ky, the producer will speak on CNN about their upcoming documentary that will air on CNN this Thursday.. Sole Survivor.

    Happy New Year!

    Teddy Ballgame 


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