Richard J. Switz in Memoriam

Richard ‘Dick’ Switz was born on May 18, 1928 in a farmhouse in Switz City, Indiana, son of Henry ‘Bud’ and Lucille Switz with older brother Donald and younger brother Hal.  Switz City was named for his great grandfather. He grew up working on the family farm and attended Switz City High School.

Dick graduated from Purdue University, for which he maintained lifelong affection and pride, earning a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He was drafted after graduation into the U.S. Army, serving two years assigned to the Corps of Engineers in the Pentagon.  After his discharge from the Army Dick accepted a job with Ryan Aircraft, and relocated to sunny San Diego, beginning the California adventure lasting the rest of his life. He enjoyed music, photography, traveling, time with family and friends and adored his grand/great-grandkids.

Dick spent most of his career with Hughes Aircraft, moving to El Segundo in 1966 from Reseda and played a key roles in designing Surveyor—the first spacecraft to successfully soft land on the Moon—many communication satellites and exploring other planets with Pioneer Venus and Galileo.  After retiring in the mid-80s as Chief Scientist, Dick was elected for four years to the El Segundo City Council to proudly serve his hometown and was a parishioner of St. Anthony’s for over 50 years.

Dick passed away peacefully on October 14 at Torrance Memorial Hospital surrounded by family. He is survived by children Jim Switz and Rita Nelson (both of WA State) and Lauren Harger in Manhattan Beach, grandchildren Laura, Jenna, Sean and Megan and great-grandchildren Linken and Olia.

Visitation will be from 5 to 9pm on October 22 at the Rice Mortuary at 5310 Torrance Blvd in Torrance.  A service will be held on October 23 at American Martyrs Catholic Church located at 624 15thStreet in Manhattan Beach at 10am followed by a reception at 11am.

Robert J. Varga In Memoriam

Bob Varga, a longtime friend, passed away on October 2 as a result of complications from food poisoning.  Bob spent many years at Hughes Aircraft and contributed greatly to a variety of proposals and spacecraft programs.  Services and interment will be at the Green Hills Memorial Park at 11:30 am on October 17.  Green Hills is located at 27501 South Western Avenue in Rancho Palos Verdes. Further information can be found at the Green Hills website–https://greenhillsmemorial.com/

Thomas Joseph Mattis:  November 11, 1927-March 8, 2018 From the Daily Breeze March 29, 2018


Rancho Palos Verdes – Thomas J. Mattis, 90, passed away peacefully Wednesday, March 8, 2018 at his home in Portuguese Bend with family.

He leaves his wife of over sixty years, Kathleen Mattis; his daughters, Marlene, Denise, Carolyn and Michelle; his son, Mark Mattis; three son-in-laws, Burt Rose, Jeff Iverson and Brian Brown; a daughter-in-law, Shauna Mattis; eight grandchildren; one great granddaughter; and many close friends. He also leaves his sister Maureen Peterson and her family for whom he always had deep affection.

Tom was born in Fullerton and raised in Whittier, the son of George Edward and Alice Mattis. He eventually started a family where he resided in Rancho Palos Verdes for sixty years.

In his early years, Tom enjoyed body surfing, water polo and building classic roadsters. He entered the Army after his graduation from Whittier High School in 1945. The War would end during his basic training and he was stationed for two years in Tokyo, Japan as part of the post-war occupation force.

After the service, Tom enrolled at University of California at Berkeley where he studied thermodynamics and joined the Lambda Chi Fraternity where he developed many fond memories. Following his graduation, he went to work for Northrop Aircraft as flight test engineer monitoring the performance of experimental aircraft engines. In late 1950’s, he was hired by Hughes Aircraft and eventually became a well-respected project manager for one of the teams that developed the Syncom satellites for NASA – the first geostationary satellites.

During this time, his friends set him up on a blind date with a young schoolteacher living in Pasadena, Kathleen Conway. “Kathy” was born and raised in Clare, Iowa and had recently moved from her small town to Southern California. The two were married on February 5, 1955. They would eventually build their home of over 60 years in Portuguese Bend where they would raise five children.

In the mid-1970’s, Mr. Mattis would temporarily leave the aerospace industry and purchased a commercial glass company in Bakersfield which he ran until 1988. He then returned to Hughes Space and Communications, later Boeing Satellite, where he continued to develop both commercial and military satellite contracts. Tom retired from Boeing in the year 2000.

An avid paddle tennis player, he was a longtime member of the Portuguese Bend Club (PBC) and he served as President of the Board of the residential community of Portuguese Bend. Tom was a founding practitioner of St. John Fisher Church where he expanded the food pantry and initiated soup kitchen services for the homeless in Long Beach and San Pedro.

Thomas Mattis was a man who loved all aspects of his life. He was a man of faith, was blessed with a loving family, was proud and loved his career, and enjoyed many years of paddle tennis and friendships. Portuguese Bend will miss the older man walking around the bend talking to everyone he meets.

A funeral mass will be held April 14, 2018 at St. John Fisher Church in Palos Verdes at 11:00 AM in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the St. John Fisher Parish Food Pantry, in memory of Tom Mattis. Please sign the guest book at www.dailybreeze.com/obits.

 

 

Robert K Roney–August 5, 1922 to August 4, 2017

This obituary was written by Bob’s son and daughter, Stephen Roney and Karen Dahl.

Robert K. Roney passed away in Irvine, California, on August 4, 2017, just eight hours shy of his 95th birthday. Bob was born in 1922 on a farm in Iowa, the youngest of four children. The family moved to Missouri in 1929, where he spent the rest of his childhood. He attended the University of Missouri, and received a BS in Electrical Engineering in 1944. He served in WWII in the U.S. Navy, where he worked in the radar department on the battleship, USS Washington, at the battle Okinawa. At the end of the war, he took part in his ship’s transportation of American soldiers home from Europe.

After the war, he used the GI Bill to go to the California Institute of Technology, where he received his Master’s in Electrical Engineering in 1947, and his Ph.D. in Physics in 1950. From there, he joined the Guided Missile division at Hughes, starting a thirty-eightyear career. He soon met Alice Mann of the Radar Reports group in the Radar Division at Hughes. They were married in 1951, and remained together until her death in May of 2013.  They raised their family (son and daughter) and lived in the same house in Santa Monica, California, for 53 years.

He advanced to Head of Systems Analysis and Aerodynamics department at Hughes, and then the Systems Analysis Laboratory. He was the Technical Director for the R&D Labs of the Engineering Division when they won the proposal for the Surveyor program.  He was involved in both the Surveyor and Syncom development, along with the subsequent communications satellites, made by Hughes. He became manager of the Space & Communication Division in 1968 and a company vice president in 1973. He retired in 1988 as Senior Vice-President, Corporate.

Bob also served as president of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra, from 1970 to 1992, and spent some time on the board of the Cal Tech Associates. Bob and Alice enjoyed traveling all over the world during their retirement years. In 2011, they moved to Regents Point in Irvine, a continuing care facility. Bob cared for Alice, who had Alzheimer’s, as they lived independently in their own villa. After Alice’s death, he continued to live independently until shortly before his own death.  Bob is survived by two children: Stephen Roney (Susan), and Karen Dahl (Wayne); five grandchildren: Sharla Hinkey (Sean), Brian Roney (Heather), Robert Dahl (Elizabeth), Jim Dahl (Jessica), and Ryan Dahl; and five great-grandchildren.

Bob is most remembered for his extraordinary intelligence and problem-solving abilities, high level of integrity, quick wit, caring heart, and loyalty. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the American Cancer Society or the Alzheimer’s Association of America.

The following comment has been added by Steve Dorfman.

Bob Roney had several distinctive characteristics that made him a remarkable man: he was a brilliant scientist/engineer,  he was a sensitive and inspirational leader, he operated at the highest level of ethics and he had a great sense of humor.

Together with Bud Wheelon and Harold Rosen he helped lead the Space and Communications Group to enormous success.  Alas they are all gone now but we are all indebted to the contributions they made to our lives.

 

 

Michael Horstein July 7, 1933—July 27, 2017

 

Mike’s obituary was published in the Los Angeles Time on July 30, 2017 and is reprinted here.

Michael Horstein passed away at home on July 27, 2017, after a year of illness with mantle cell lymphoma.  He was surrounded by his loving family.

Mike was born in Brooklyn, New York on July 7, 1933, the child of Joe and Beatrice Horstein.  He showed an early interest in math and excelled in school.  Mike graduated from MIT in 1960 with a PhD in electrical engineering.  He moved to Los Angeles to work at Hughes Aircraft as an aerospace engineer for 19 years.  After returning to school at UCLA, he earned an MBA in 1979.  He worked on projects for JPL and Xerox Corporation, before spending the rest of his career at TRW in Redondo Beach, CA, where he worked in the satellite communications area.  While there, he received a U. S. patent for developing a medium-earth orbit mobile telephone satellite system.

Mike developed a love of baseball from an early age in Brooklyn, and became a lifelong Dodger fan.  From his childhood bedroom, he could hear the roar of the crowd from Ebbets Field two blocks away and know what was happening in the game.

His hobbies were reading, traveling, and seeing movies and plays.  In retirement, his passion became ballroom dancing and he performed at his studio showcases, as well as in retirement homes.  In addition, Mike enjoyed tutoring math at Santa Monica College.

He will be very much missed by his wife of 48 years, Charlotte; his loving daughter, Dana, and his son Scott and grandsons , Kiyo and Koji, whom he adored.  His daughter-in-law, Antonia Glenn, was dear to him, and he recently took joy in welcoming his son-in-law, Alberto Quiterio, into the family.  He dearly loved his sister, Susan Goldberg, and her family.  He was one of eight first cousins, each of the cousins and their families were important to him.

Elliot Axelband

Elliot’s obituary was published in the LA Times on May 24, 2017 and is reprinted here.

Elliot Axelband died suddenly on May 14, 2017 two weeks shy of his 80th birthday. He was born in Brooklyn New York in 1937. He attended Erasmus High School and earned a BS in Electrical Engineering in 1958 from Cooper Union on full scholarship. He then moved to Los Angeles to begin a long career with Hughes Aircraft Company. While working full time, he earned an MS in Electrical Engineering from USC, and a PhD in Control Theory from UCLA. His academic focus was helping to develop what is now known as Classical Control Theory.

Early in his career at Hughes Aircraft, he worked on communications satellites and on the motion control of the Surveyor which was the first craft to soft land on the moon. This paved the way for the Apollo program. He was a fellow in numerous professional societies, published over 50 scientific papers, was President of the IEEE Controls Society in 1977 and a recipient of the Air Force Meritorious Civilian Service Award. He worked at Hughes for 35 years ending his career there as a Vice President and General Manager. In his “retirement” he was, among many other things, Associate Dean of Engineering and Professor at USC, a senior researched at RAND Corporation and Director and part owner of Legacy Engineering.

Elliot is surviced by Barbara Axelband, his wife of over 40 years, his children, Erica Small (David), Allen Axelband and Debra Smotherman (Bob) and six grandchildren. He was a long time member of Temple Akiba in Culver City. He loved gourmet food, sailing, golf, vacations in Mammoth Lakes, Lakers Basketball and UCLA and USC athletics. In his later years he especially loved to watch the antics of his grandchildren.

He will be greatly missed.

Harold Rosen, creator of satellite that helped reshape life in Southern California, dies at 90. Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times Reprinted with permission.

At a moment in the Cold War when it seemed the Soviet Union was eclipsing America in space, a young engineer at Hughes Aircraft was hatching an audacious plan to permanently surpass the communists.

What Harold Rosen imagined by the late 1950s was a lightweight satellite that could transmit telephone calls and video images around the world, providing connectivity between nations that at the time was only a farsighted dream.

By 1963, Rosen had succeeded in upending the world of science and engineering, overseeing the creation of the world’s first geosynchronous communications satellite and laying the foundation of a future multi-billion dollar industry that would be dominated by California.

Rosen died Monday at his home in Santa Monica at age 90. His death was confirmed by his wife, Deborah Castleman.

Of all the technological breakthroughs made in Los Angeles during the Cold War — the first supersonic jet fighter, the Apollo moon ship, stealth aircraft, the space shuttle, the Blackbird spy plane, the intercontinental ballistic missile system and much else — the creation of a communications satellite has had the largest and most enduring cultural, social and economic impact.

Rosen’s accomplishments in the early 1960s with the first satellite, which he dubbed Syncom, would hardly be his last act. In the decades to come, Rosen presided as the de facto chief scientist at Hughes Aircraft’s space and communications group in El Segundo, helping design the Hughes Satellite 376 and the Hughes Satellite 601, two of the most successful commercial spacecraft programs in history.

“Harold was the brilliant mind behind many of the developments that made Hughes so successful,” said Steve Dorfman, who was a president of the space group. “Harold was the go-to guy when new ideas were required or problems needed to be solved.”

For all his focused drive on engineering, Rosen had broad interests. Dorfman recalled that after he and Rosen were dispatched to deal with a technical crisis, they boarded a company jet to return home and, with a bloody mary at his side, Rosen quickly dove into a New York Times crossword puzzle he brought along.

Rosen had an innate ability to leap beyond conventional wisdom. In recent years he harbored serious doubts about the claims of global warming, particularly the severity of the problem and the proposed solution of limiting greenhouse gas emissions. He believed any real climate change crisis in the future could be contained with straightforward climate engineering or more elaborate space-based systems.

It was the knack for thinking outside the box that was essential to his vision for communications satellites. The Soviet Union had launched the world’s first satellite, Sputnik, in 1957. But all it could do was broadcast a simple beep. What Rosen wanted was a telephone switching station in space, one that could route thousands of telephone calls at a time when undersea copper cables carried only small numbers of calls.

The top American communications experts doubted that his idea for a satellite 22,000 miles in space would ever work. But Rosen never faltered in his conviction and recruited a team of engineers at Hughes to develop a 78-pound machine that would outflank the best that Ma Bell, the American Telephone and Telegraph Co., could muster. When Syncom was launched, its formal inauguration came in a two-minute telephone call placed by President John F. Kennedy to Nigerian Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

The little Syncom has morphed into communications satellites the size of school buses, weighing more than 13,000 pounds, operating with solar wings the length of a basketball court and running electronics with more power than a typical house wired to the electrical grid. Electronic credit card authorizations, international television signals, email and social media — all the things that define modern connected culture — would not exist in many areas of the world without communications satellites.

Rosen would later win the Charles Stark Draper Prize, considered the Nobel Prize of engineering, which he shared with his rival John Pierce, a Bell Labs expert who in the 1950s had advocated low-Earth-orbit satellites. When he won the Goddard Memorial Trophy from the National Space Club in 2015, the somewhat shy engineer was mobbed by younger engineers and scientists at a reception in Washington, Castleman said.

Rosen continued to consult for the satellite operation, which was later acquired by Boeing, until late last year when a team of Boeing engineers came to Rosen’s house to discuss plans for a new type of high-power amplifier for future satellite.

Castleman, a former satellite engineer at Hughes and deputy assistant secretary of Defense during the Clinton administration, said her husband remained in good health until his death Monday. Rosen had suffered a minor stroke last year. “He was active until the end,” she said.

Rosen was born March 20, 1926, in New Orleans and attended Tulane University. He dithered over where to attend graduate school, but after reading a Life magazine story about beach parties in Southern California he decided on Caltech, where he earned a PhD in engineering.

Rosen is survived by Castleman and two sons, Rocky and Robert. Their mother, Rosetta, died in 1969. He is also survived by a brother, Benjamin Rosen.

John Buterbaugh, Rest In Peace—Andy Ott

John Buterbaugh was born in Chicago 1931 and passed away in his sleep April 26, 2016 after a long struggle with prostate cancer. His wife Sheila had passed away in 2014. John’s brother Gabriel lives in Chicago and has a son and two daughters.

John had a passion for electrical engineering, graduating with a BS EE from the University of Chicago in 1952 and he also attended the UCLA Graduate Studies Program in electrical engineering. John served in the Air Force during the Korean War and completed the Ground Electronics Officer Course in 1953.

Prior to John’s 30-year career at Hughes he worked at Rheem Electronics designing telemetry signal conditioning equipment. At North American Aviation, his tasks included “transistorizing” the airborne radar electronics of that time.

John started at Hughes Aircraft in 1959, before the existence of a Space and Communications Group. He initially specialized in voice and data communications electronic circuit design with an emphasis on micro-miniaturizing techniques. This led to the delivery of a high speed digital modulator for the U.S. Army.

John’s specialty at Hughes Space and Communications was assuring electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of space hardware. This included the electronics within the spacecraft, scientific instruments carried by the spacecraft, as well as any and all external sources. He performed this function as a Systems Engineer working directly with the spacecraft design, development, and test organizations plus Scientific community for projects that included instruments.

Among the spacecraft programs that he supported that had a heavy concentration of Scientific Instruments were Surveyor, Orbiting Solar Observatory, Pioneer Venus, Magellan and Galileo. These included dozens of different instruments manufactured by many different universities and corporations. John was key during the design and test phase for each of these as well as the Hughes hardware. In addition, John was key to the EMC design of the HS376 series of Hughes commercial programs.

John and Sheila loved the water and boating (Manhattan Beach, Naples, Big Bear Lake). Their ashes will be scattered over the ocean in a private ceremony.

Bud Franklin

The following obituary was passed on from Joe Moore who received it from Jim Thompson.

An old and dear friend of many of us, Bud Franklin passed away last Friday from complications in recovery from hip surgery performed last fall. For the last five years he has been in Houston, Texas with his four daughters, his 11 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren. During this time period he successfully underwent several surgeries but not without some toll to a man in his eighties. Recovery was difficult after the hip surgery late last year, yet he seemed to rally from the holidays up to mid-January, but then began to weaken progressively with time until last week. He was fortunate to spend time with his large family and to be in the loving care of his daughters and other family members.

Bud had two tours of duty with Hughes. The first was in the late sixties leading the satellite new business activities. He then moved on to VP Space Division, NA Rockwell and later had a two-decade-long entrepreneurial adventure in the Texas oil business. In 1995 Bud returned to Hughes as a consultant in support of the development and sales of the HS 702 satellite product line. Not too long after the Boeing transition he moved on to Aerospace Corp. but remained in contact with many of his former Hughes colleagues. He retired to Texas around 2010.

The funeral service will be held this coming Saturday 2-13-16 at the Bridgepoint Bible Church located at:

Bridgepoint Bible Church

13277 Katy Freeway

Houston, TX 77079

(832) 488-1330

Flowers may be sent to the church or to the home of his daugther Julianne Murphy at:

The Murphy Family

12670 Briar Patch Rd.

Houston, TX 77077

 

Clinton Lew

May 29, 1930 – January 29, 2016 Rancho Palos Verdes, CA-Clinton Lew, 85, passed away Friday, January 29, 2016 at the Earlwood Care Center following a stroke. He leaves his wife of 61 years, Hawn (Young) Lew; sons, Jeffrey (Allison) and Eric Lew; daughters, Gale Lew and Jodie (Ian) Gray; grandchildren, Ethan and Alyssa Lew and Willie Gray. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he was the youngest son of Quon Sheik and Lai Shee Lew. After graduating from Caltech he went on to work for Hughes Aircraft Company where he became Chief Scientist of Hughes Space and Communications Company. He retired in 1993 after 41 years of service. He spent his later years dabbling with electronics, spending time with his grandchildren and doing daily sudoko and crossword puzzles to keep his mind active. A funeral service will be held Saturday, February 13 at 11am at South Bay Community Church, 2549 W. 190th St., Torrance, with Rev. Albert Hung from Trinity Church of Nazarene officiating. www.fukuimortuary.com (213)626-0441

 

Published in the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 7, 2016