Frank Lathrop Jones
1927 - 2006
"Making your dream a reality"
integrity, modesty, honesty, perseverance, humor and confidence
are qualities Frank Jones exemplified throughout his life: growing
up on a small farm in Alabama, educating himself through the GI
Bill, becoming a successful aerospace engineer, and being a loving
husband, father, and grandfather.
Born May 6, 1927 in Wilsonville, Alabama, Frank was the youngest
of four children and the only son of Benjamin and Frances Jones.
From childhood, Frank exhibited an inquisitive nature and a curiosity
about how things worked. Upon graduation from high school, Frank
was drafted, and served in World War II and with the U.S. Army
of Occupation in France as a radio and communications technician.
After honorable discharge, he attended Northwestern University
and received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering
from the American Institute of Technology.
Frank began his engineering career with Crosley Broadcasting
in Cincinnati, Ohio during the pioneering days of television.
There he met and, in 1955, married his wife Martha. In 1958 the
couple welcomed their first child Steven. In 1960 their second
son Eric was born.
Crosley now had been acquired by the Avco Corporation, and Frank’s
work moved from the commercial sphere to that of the government.
He was developing and testing air traffic control systems in Wilmington,
Ohio, when, in 1964, he was recruited by the Avco Everett Research
Laboratory (AERL) in Everett, Massachusetts to work on reentry
missile technology, and the family moved to Marblehead, Massachusetts.
Frank’s fascination with astronomy, science and technology
led to a passionate interest in space exploration and spaceflight.
This passion was further fueled by his work in reentry physics
and its application at AERL and, later, at Avco Research and Advanced
Development Division in Wilmington, Massachusetts. The results
of his achievements — designing, building and analyzing
sophisticated electronics to monitor the reentry signature of
incoming missiles — would later be applied in the programs
that sent men into space, and returned them safely to earth. The
Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo projects — Frank avidly followed
Frank’s intellectual curiosity led to far-ranging interests.
He loved to read, loved to acquire knowledge. Of the many books
he devoured, histories, biographies and spy stories were his favorites.
He was also passionate about music, especially classical music
and jazz. From Beethoven to Basie, he was a connoisseur and a
collector. Frank loved the natural world. He enjoyed camping trips
with his sons, and was an enthusiastic sailor who loved sailing
for the sunsets as well as the competition.
After retirement, Frank, a meticulous craftsman, was able to
satisfy his lifelong avocation of woodworking, both in his home
workshop and at the Blue Anchor Woodworks in Marblehead, where
he contributed to the design and fabrication of specialty cutting
tools to replicate antique molding for the restoration of historic
In July 2002, Frank was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological
disease known as Shy-Drager syndrome or multiple system atrophy.
He faced his devastating illness with the same courage and dignity
he had shown throughout his life.
Frank died January 15, 2006. He is survived by his loving wife
of 50 years, two sons and their spouses, five grandchildren, and
two sisters. His family and his many friends feel their loss deeply.
They miss Frank’s intellect, his sense of humor, and his