Born from mill town roots and raised by a single parent, this man of simple upbringing rose above what many might consider an inevitable destiny of an undistinguished life to be an executive, business owner and someone who affected the lives of many people.
As a young man, he played baseball, worked the cotton fields and attended high school in North Carolina. Something drove him to join the Air Force and he participated in the Berlin Airlift after World War II. That led to attending North Carolina State University and then on to attending the University of Southern California where he graduated with a Masters in aeronautical engineering. If he did nothing else in his life, he was already a success. But this was only the beginning.
Defense contractors were the rage in Southern California in the late 1950s. He joined that industry by working for Northrop as an engineer and then for Ford Aerospace as an engineer and executive. At Ford, he led development of precision guided munitions systems which were the predecessor of what is still used today by the American military. Whatever your thoughts may be on this subject, this technology saved many lives by eliminating what is commonly referred to as collateral damage. After taking early retirement from Ford, he joined the former FMC in San Jose for 10 years. But this still wasn’t the end.
After a long and distinguished career in the defense contracting industry, retiring to a life of leisure just wasn’t in the cards. The drive was still there and a fencing business was started. Starting your own business is a big task for a young man, let alone someone who many might think should be enjoying life in a rocker on the porch. Not the case here. As a contractor, he further distinguished himself as someone who is responsive, trustworthy and reliable. A rare set of traits in the industry.
The work persona hid a gentle man. He could present a stern and demanding face but was a different person on the home front. He was a man that enjoyed the simple pleasures in life, a sunset, a mountain peak and Tom Jones. Not much was better than a favorite TV show and a drink. He was kind and considerate. One that would do anything for you. Not one to judge or hold a grudge. He was civil and gracious to everyone. A man of integrity, honesty and worthy of one’s trust. Everyone he met deserved and got respect and it was reciprocated by those that got to know him. He was someone you could look up to, someone you would want to be like, someone you would want your children to grow up to be.
This brilliant, gentle man is survived by his loving wife Dorothy, a son, Kevin (Joanne), and daughters Christine Gaither (Rob) and Madeline Flanagan (Brian), 5 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and 1 great great grandchild. This amazing man touched so many lives and will be sorely missed. There is a new star in the heavens and heaven is so lucky to have him now.
A private scattering of ashes will take place at a later date. Contributions, if desired, can be made to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation.