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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Feb 16 In Memory of George W. LeCompte

Today at 1:00 was the memorial for Bob's dad. I have known good men, and met good men, but this was a great man.
When I went to the house on Thursday evening, there was a gentleman from NASA, in Texas, whom George had mentored when this man was just beginning his career. He told stories of George that none of us had ever heard, including that he helped figure out what went so wrong with the Challenger debacle. He was the one (really!) who figured out that the problem was the temperature - and told our guy who was the top guy to figure out what had happened, to put the O-ring into the freezer, and then test it. Bingo!
Then he got another call - for Columbia this time. They couldn't figure what went wrong - their calculations showed that there was only a 1 in 250 chance of the mission failing. George figured out that they were using only the one mission, instead of the entire program. The chances of failure turned out to be 1 in 5!!
That was why he had a top secret clearance - he didn't tell what he wasn't supposed to tell. Bob's quote about his own top secret clearance was - "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you", always said with a smile. That probably is a much used quote.
At any rate - this was a man full of surprises. He always whistled tunes around the house, and seemed to know the words to just about any 'oldie' song. Mari said he grew up singing with his family around the piano, and used his knowledge for fun and edification.

He really was a genius, and I admired him greatly.Please check out his obituary in the Arizona Daily Star at
We will be interring him with son David and grandson Sean in the Vashon Island Cemetary the end of June - probably on Saturday the 28th or Sun day the 29th. No date or arrangements have been made yet, but the family will be renting a house on the island for the week following those dates.
He is and will be forever missed.


At February 21, 2008 at 8:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a gentle soul and kind spirit... a gentleman !


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