A Westmont Graduate’s Legacy for the Class of 2023

By Maddon Hoh-Choi

Ric Barline, an entrepreneur from Westmont’s Class of 1967, was a man of many talents and passions, and helped develop a component of every golf cart used today. Throughout his life, Ric was always curious about the physical world and loved to figure out how things worked, according to his wife, Marcia Frederick, who established the Ric Barline Scholarship to help students who plan to pursue entrepreneurship and have demonstrated leadership skills and a desire to help others.

Born in 1947, Ric had a keen interest in electricity, physics, and math — and would likely have taken part in robotics if it had existed during his time at Westmont. Ric lived by the code of the Boy Scouts: always striving to help others. His leadership trajectory progressed from class vice president to CEO of the companies he started.

Collaboration was key for Ric, who enjoyed working with others. Together, Ric and Marcia founded Open Door, a hobby craft company that made thread art. Though the company was a success, Ric sold his share to pursue his interest in alternative energy. In the log house that he built, the couple used a nearby stream to generate electricity with a Pelton wheel.

Like many early Silicon Valley innovators, Ric started a company in his garage —  focusing on alternative energies like wind and solar power. As only a hobby, he converted gasoline cars into electric-powered vehicles for his friends. But through this hobby, Ric designed a motor controller to make an electric engine more like a gasoline engine. Along with a peer who was doing similar work in Berkeley, they developed the motor controller still used in modern golf carts. Ric continued working with the company until they eventually sold it to an East Coast firm now known as Curtis.

This year, Marcia Frederick established the Ric Barline Scholarship to honor Ric, who passed away in 2019, and support students who share Ric’s interests and values. It provides not only $1,500 of financial assistance but also recognizes the importance of leadership and community service. Students who are passionate about engineering and alternative energy, and have demonstrated leadership skills and a desire to help others, are encouraged to apply. Ric’s legacy lives on by inspiring future generations to pursue their passion to make a difference in the world. 

Applicants for the Ric Barline Memorial Scholarship should contact Rene Klaus at rklaus@cuhsd.org or stop by the Westmont College and Career Center for an application.