Remebering George C. Briley

Tim P. Facius, IIAR Marketing Committee

It is with sadness that IIAR has learned of the passing of George Clifton Briley, P.E.. George passed away peacefully in his home in San Antonio, Texas on June 17, 2016 at the age of 90 years, surrounded by loving family. George is survived by his wife Phyllis; son John and spouse Rebecca; daughter Melissa and spouse Tom; and five grandchildren.

George was an icon in the refrigeration industry, and he was one of the founding members of IIAR in 1971. His passion for our industry was highly evident throughout his long career through his many contributions to its advancement. Most of George’s career was spent in design/build refrigeration contracting, but he spent a significant portion of his career leading the design and manufacture of refrigeration system components and he finished his career in a consulting engineering capacity. It is rare that someone has the diversity of experience in all segments of the refrigeration industry that George did; including all aspects of food and beverage production and storage, process cooling and petrochemical. He was deeply committed to the safe design and operation of ammonia refrigeration systems, and over his career he collaborated closely with safety code officials and organizations to ensure safety. George received several refrigeration patents over the years and wrote a plethora of articles in a variety of industry publications dealing with refrigeration equipment, system design, operational practices, and safety. He possessed a unique talent for presenting complicated material in an easy to understand format. With George’s acquired broad knowledge of refrigeration and his commitment to sharing it, he rapidly became known to industry engineers by his well-earned nickname “Mr. Refrigeration”.

After serving with the armed forces in Europe during WWII, George attended Louisiana Polytechnic University and graduated summa cum laude in 1949 with a degree in electrical engineering. He was recruited by York Refrigeration Corporation, undergoing extensive two year training in refrigeration. Subsequently, George worked for Lewis Refrigeration Company as vice president and later joined Refrigeration Engineering Corporation (RECO) as vice president of marketing. In 2003, George founded Technicold Services, Inc., a refrigeration consulting engineering firm.

As a key founding member of IIAR, George was elected as the first IIAR Chair, serving two consecutive terms 1971-1973 and also hosting the first IIAR conference in San Antonio in 1973.  He remained active in IIAR in a variety of roles and received IIAR Honorary Life Member status in 2005.  George was one of the first major gift donors to IIAR’s Ammonia Refrigeration Foundation (ARF) and as such, recognized as a Century Club Member. Over the years, George contributed significantly to IIAR through work on numerous committees, in a variety of capacities.  A list of George’s many IIAR technical papers can be viewed through this link.

Besides his many contributions to IIAR, George participated significantly in numerous other industry associations including ASHRAE and RETA.

George joined ASHRAE in 1953 and contributed to the advancement of refrigeration technology on many fronts including participation and development within the Standard 15 committee, Safety Standard for Refrigeration Systems, as well as several ASHRAE technical committees. He was the first columnist in the Refrigeration Applications column of the ASHRAE Journal, at one point contributing an article every month for a straight two-year period. In 2009, ASHRAE established the George C. Briley ASHRAE Journal Article Award which is named in George’s honor for his many contributions to the publication over the years. This award recognizes select authors each year for outstanding refrigeration system article content, and serves to raise ASHRAE membership awareness and interest in Journal refrigeration articles.  George was an ASHRAE Fellow/Life Member and received ASHRAE’s Distinguished Service Award, the Distinguished 50-Year Member Award and the George B. Hightower Technical Achievement Award in recognition of his many contributions over the years.

Over the last 50 plus years George has made his mark on the refrigeration industry. He was well recognized as one of the first to volunteer for a difficult task. Those who have worked with George, and there are many in our industry, will be the first to tell you what an important figure he was in their career development, and what a force he was in the shaping of our industry. George was a leader, a mentor, and a contributor to the advancement of the industry as a whole. IIAR expresses its gratitude and respects for George’s significant contributions to the refrigeration industry.

George Briley, “Mr. Refrigeration”, will be missed by many.