About Members and Obituaries

We plan to include information about individual LAA members in this section, including New members, other NASA retirees, and a list of Obituaries, of those who have recently passed.  At each LAA meeting the LAA Membership Chair reads aloud the names of new members who have recently joined the LAA and those friends and associates who have passed away since the previous month’s LAA meeting. These names are emailed to the LAA members on the LAA Membership Roster each month. The Membership Chair maintains monthly lists of Obituaries since 2011, and several albums of newspaper-clipping obits dating back to well-before that.

NEW MEMBERS

January 2020, Year Retired,  Resides

Johnny W. Allred 2000 Burlington, NC

David Bowles 2019 Suffolk VA

John Wayne Cox 2006 Hampon, VA

Regina D Johns 2017 Hampton, VA

Mitchel E. Thomas 2004 Williamsburg, VA

Hartsell Frank Williams 1998 Hampton, VA

Charles Zeitman 2019 Suffolk, VA

February 2020, Year Retired,  Resides

Curtis “Randy” Regan Suffolk, VA

Brent Weathered 2019 Poquoson, VA

Raleigh Brad Perry, Jr. 2013 Irvington, VA

March 2020, Year Retired,  Resides

Rosemary Froehlich 2014 Norfolk, VA

William M. Berrios 2019 Yorktown, VA

Doree G Fitzhugh 2020 Hampton, VA

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RECENT OBITUARIES FOR NASA ALUMNI – NAME, AGE, DATE OF PASSING, HISTORY

1.  Mildred Frances Hartman, 93, passed away on August 6, 2020 and was born in Louisiana.  She retired from NASA/LaRC in 1988.  Her obituary stated that she loved knitting hats for the homeless, sewing for children affected by hurricanes and earthquakes in Haiti, sewing baby blankets for a Family Drug  Recovery Court in Texas and various other charitable organizations.

2.  Joseph Bernard Talbot passed away on August 9, 2020.  Joe began his 33-year career with NASA at Lewis Research Center in Ohio and spent most of it at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. He especially enjoyed his work with the Scout Program Office. His later assignments included a tenure at NASA Headquarters as program manager for Shuttle payloads, and member of the Space Station Freedom Design team at NASA Johnson Space Center.  He retired in 1995 as the Deputy Director of Space. 

3.  John “David” Dearing, 77, of Newport News, passed away Tuesday, August 11, 2020.  He was a 1966 graduate of Virginia Tech with a degree in Aerospace Engineering and earned a Master’s degree in Thermal Engineering from Old Dominion University in 1969.  He waa an Aerospace Engineer with Langley Research Center for 33 years and was the owner of Dave’s PC/VCR Clinic. 

4.  William (Bill) Joseph Monta age 85, of Hampton passed away on July 24, 2020.  Bill graduated from Virginia Tech in 1957 and worked at the Langley Research Center as an Aeronautical Research Engineer until his retirement.  Bill was a member of the Supersonic/Hypersonic Aerodynamic Branch.  Bill authored and co-authored numerous technical reports on very complex aerodynamic characteristics at velocities high above the speed of sound.

5.  Milton W. Skolaut, Jr. passed away on August 16, 2020. He worked in the Engineering Directorate for NASA for 57 years. Milton was active with the Boy Scouts of America for more than 60 years. He served as a judge for various science fairs and volunteered with PORT Emergency Winter Shelter in Newport News.

6.  Virgil Scott Laney, 84, of Tabb, Virginia passed away on August 20, 2020, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was born in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains in Wise County, Virginia. After graduating high school, he served four years in the Navy. After marrying, he attended the NASA apprentice program, graduating in 1967. After 30 years of service he retired from LaRC as an electrical engineer in 1992. 

7.  Barbara “Jeanne” Driscoll, 90, passed away on August 28, 2020l. Jeanne retired from civil service, earning numerous awards working for NASA and DOD. A notable highlight while at NASA was being introduced to the original seven astronauts. Jeanne loved reading, boating, gardening, traveling, being with friends, and seeing new places.

8.  Donald Chester McCracken, 87, passed away on Saturday, August 29, 2020 at his home in Windsor.  Don retired from NASA as a Project Manager of the Scout Rocket Program in 1994 after 35 years of service.  He was a marine Corp veteran. He played football at Vanderbilt and Kent State. It was very important to him that he was mentored and coached by Steve Belichick and, thus, was a lifetime New England Patriot fan.

9.  Ronald Lee Weber, “Ronnie”, 84, passed on September 1,2020.  He attended Virginia Tech where he played basketball before entering the NASA Apprentice School from which he graduated in 1963 and was employed by NASA from 1957 until his retirement in 1992. Ron served his country in the Virginia National Guard.   Ron played semi-pro baseball for the Hampton Royals in the Tri-County League around 1955 before he joined the Fox Hill Major League Fast Pitch Softball Team for whom he played 1st base until 1984.

10.  Thomas B. Gatski, 72, of Williamsburg, VA, passed away on September 3, 2020.  His obituary states he was a research scientist and after retiring from Langley Research Center, he then went on to work in France at the Institut PPRIME CNRS. 

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1.  Frank Donald Wiggs, 92: Passed away on February 24, 2020.  He taught high school in Annapolis, NC, worked for Douglas Aircraft in Charlotte, NC for 10 years and retired from LaRC after 30 years.

2.  Ashley Duane Page, 83:  Passed away on February 27, 2020.  Ashley was a model maker at NASA for 35 years.  He retired in 1991.  He was affectionately known as “Cuz Too” by his friends and workmates.

3.  Kathryn Smith, 81:  Passed away February 3, 2020.  Remembered that she worked in ACD, Bldg 1268.  Don’t know when retired and years of service.

4.  Katherine G. Johnson, 101:  Passed away on February 24, 2020.  She was one of the “computers” at LaRC and became well known being portrayed in the movie Hidden Figures.  She had worked in the Astromechanics Branch headed by J. Bird and later worked in Control Analysis Branch headed by Al Shy.

5.  William Carroll “Bill” Phaup, 75:  Passed away on March 6, 2020.  He graduated from the NASA Apprentice School and worked at LaRC for 37 years as a technician and section head supervising the wind tunnels.  He retired in 2001.

6.  William J. Debnam, Jr. “Bill”, 79:  He started working at NASA in 1965 and retired in 1998.  He received several patents that he was very proud of.  After retirement from NASA, he worked at Trigg Industries for several years.

7.  Robert D. Collie, 97:  Passed away on March 7, 2020.  He was a veteran of WWII and started work at the NACA as photographer and video expert.  He served many posts for NASA, including four tours in Bermuda, Wallops Island, Ascension Island, and 5 years in Pasadena, CA where he was a key contributor to the Viking Mission.

8.  John L. Muring, Jr., 88:  Passed away on March 10, 2020.  Not sure if he was employed by LaRC but obituary stated he served at LaRC as Chief Architect and Master Planner.

9.  Robert (Bobby) C. Gage, age?:  Passed away March 16, 2020.  He worked for 20 years in the NN Shipyard before working for 25 years at LaRC.  He retired in 2006.  Don’t know where he worked at LaRC.  Obit notes he was a great carver of ducks and birds and was a painter.

10.  Robert Ward Johnson, 90:  Passed away March 16, 2020.  He began work at LaRC in 1963.  His work included “integrated manned life support systems” and “investigations for the application of remote sensing to the marine environment.  He retired from LaRC in 1989.

11.  Lawrence James Farrow, 83:  Passed away March 27, 2020.  He served in the US Air Force from 1954-1958.  He graduated from the NASA Apprentice School in 1965 and obituary stated he worked there for 31 years.  Don’t have any other information.

12.  David F Varner, 91:  Passed away March 25, 2020.  Went to work at NACA in 1951 and became a Project Engineer for Research Facilities.  I knew him through a facility known as MAST (Model for Assembly Sterilizer Testing) prior to the Viking mission.  Facility was to investigate how to sterilize spacecraft prior to launch and landing on other planets.  No info on when he retired.

13.  Wayne A. Wright, 81:  Passed away April 4, 2020.  He went to work in Oct. 1957 for the NACA as a technician and eventually managed the Materials Fabrication building.  His obituary noted that the NACA employees were known as the “NACA-Nuts” a title he was very proud to carry.  He retired in 1994 with 37 years of service to LaRC.

14.  Joanna E Swanson, 86:  Passed away April 17, 2020.  She went to work for the NACA in 1955 as a mathematician and assume she became one of the so-called “computers”.  Don’t know when she retired.

15.  John Vernon Becker, 106:  Passed away April 26, 2020.  He joined the NACA in 1936.  He became a specialist in the aerodynamic and heating problems of high-speed flight.  In 1947 he was appointed chief of the division devoted to hypersonic research, a position he held until his retirement.  By 1949 his team had developed the first successful hypersonic wind tunnel which operated at 7 times the speed of sound.  He also worked on development of the X-15.  His obituary stated that he enjoyed visiting the retired X-15 at the Smithsonian where it was hung above the original Wright Brothers’ flyer.  He retired from LaRC in 1975.  As you all know in 2015 he was inducted into the Langley Research Center NACA and NASA Hall of Honor.

16.  Alice Ashley Craddock, 70:  Passed away on April 6, 2020.  Alice began her 31-year career at LaRC as the Coordinator of the Federal Women’s Program.  She went on to become head of the Office of Human Resources and a liaison between LARC and Old Dominion University.  She retired in 2005 as a Deputy Administrator.  She also received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.

17.  Michael ‘Mike” Bell, 63:  Passed away on May 4,2020.  Retired with 38 years of service from LaRC a Mechanical Engineering Technician.  After retirement, he worked at the Langley AFB Base Exchange.  He was founder of the NTA Tennis Open held annually since 1998 to raise money for a scholarship fund.

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