I recently heard from relatives of Dr. George Ripley Fuller, who was the subject of a Paul Coates column in July 2007 and a follow-up post a few days later. Fuller’s story was one of several baffling accounts published in the late 1950s about brilliant men, usually scientists, who mysteriously vanished. One of the more unusual cases was that of Albert Clark Reed, a scientist who disappeared on his way to Caltech and turned up six years later as a groom at Santa Anita.
One thing I noted in my 2007 post was the apparent disinterest of Fuller’s relatives in his disappearance. I received this e-mail from one of Fuller’s nephews and I’m sharing it as an update.
My name is Walter Atherton Fuller III. My grandmother and grandfather were Marjorie and Walter A. Fuller Sr. (parents of George Ripley Fuller) My father was W. Atherton Fuller Jr. (brother of George Ripley Fuller) Today the oldest of my three sisters told me of this LA Times blog article about the disappearance of my uncle George. Our father didn't talk much about his brother. We only met him once in New York while we were visiting our grandparents during Thanksgiving. I have a pastel portrait of my uncle George when he was a young boy. It was in our house when we were growing up in Maine. We brought it to California when my dad passed away. The portrait resembled our son and until recently hung over our mantle.
George's other brother , Leroy, lived with his family in Virginia. We saw Leroy and his family often when they came to visit us in Maine.
What concerned me in the blog article was the next to the last paragraph.
"Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Fuller's disappearance is that his family took absolutely no interest in it. Neither of his brothers, one living in Maine and the other in Florida, nor his parents set foot in Los Angeles as far as I can tell and apparently they had little interest in solving what became of him."
We were all very young when our uncle disappeared. His disappearance devastated my grandmother. True, they did not travel to California to follow-up on the investigation of his disappearance, but to say they apparently had little interest in finding out what became of him seems a stretch. My grandparents kept in constant touch with investigators. Every year at Christmas she and my grandfather would set a light outside and leave it on for 24 hours. As far as the mystery being solved, we were told that they found his remains years later when doing road construction, near the spot where the car was originally located. My dad didn't talk much about him, just that he had some emotional problems.
Paul Coates on Dr. George Ripley Fuller
Never Seen Again