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.