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Monday, May 2, 2016

Gray Matter: Local NASA connections remarkable

Monday, October 23, 2006

A reader recently encouraged me to write more about people from the past, claiming it was fun to be reminded of days of long ago. 

As you have probably guessed, it doesn't take much to get me going on that sort of tale.  However, rather than going way back, I am talking today of a gentleman who is still with us, at least during the warmer parts of the year. He is my neighbor, Walter Miller, who will soon be leaving these cold climes for his winter place in sunny Florida. 

You may  know Walt as that big older guy often seen on the golf course where he can outdo many of the younger players, I'm told.  Or perhaps you know him for his somewhat erratic driving that can get him into a bit of trouble at times.  But how many of you know that he retired from a remarkable career which ended in management engineering with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ?

            Walt Miller was graduated from Marcus High School, Class of 1935.  Then off to California to attend the Polytechnic College of Engineering and to become a civil engineer.  He followed this career on the west coast with both the air force and the navy until the institution of the NASA program.  At that time he became one of the civil service engineers responsible for setting up the Florida installation.   These people, with varying specialties, were selected and then given post-graduate courses in business administration at Florida State University. In this way they became the management engineers responsible for the research and development  required to build and administer everything at the Kennedy Space Center, with the exception of the actual space vehicles themselves.

            It is extremely interesting to engage Walt in conversation concerning the intricacies of that amazing project which was the culmination of America's efforts to take the leadership role in space exploration.  It is moving, too, each time you watch  the ponderous passage of a space vehicle onto the launch pad, to recall the major role  one of our fellow citizens had in making that a possibility.

            But, wait a minute, I just realized that our area has another very close connection with the international space program.  Brian Peavey of Houston, TX  is the grandson of  Marcus resident, Dorothy Peavey and her late husband, Howard.  Then how about this?  My research reveals that Howard was a high school classmate of Walter Miller.  I do love those small-town connections !

            Howard's son, Dennis, who also lives in Houston, is the father of Brian. When I contacted him to learn exactly what Brian does, I received a fascinating story.  In a nutshell, young Peavey is employed by NASA to train astronauts in the use of space suits.  The "rest of the story," to coin a phrase, is grist for another Gray Matter.  But isn't it exciting to have our own people, through the generations, so deeply entrenched in such a major national endeavor?

Now I am wondering if there are any other Cherokee County folks  with space program connections.  If there are, would someone please let me know, for I would like to give them equal recognition.