William F. Stonaker, Jr.
1947 - 2004
"Have a great flight, Bill"
F. Stonaker, Jr. was born on May 14, 1947 to Martha Jane and William
F. Stonaker, Sr. Even though Bill was born in a hospital in Louisville,
Kentucky, the family actually lived just across the Ohio River
in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Bill spent most of his childhood in
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, until the time he attended the University
of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, where he obtained a degree in astronomy
in May of 1969.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bill spent time with a
team of pioneers in the astronomy field researching new types
of observations using various telescopes in Arizona, Mexico, and
Chile, where he spent six months on a mountaintop. I believe this
was one of his most cherished experiences. In contrast, once this
phase of his life was concluded, Bill discovered the one great
frustration of his life – not being able to find work in
the field he loved so much.
Survival dictating, Bill found work as a butcher and stayed in
that field until his death on November 8, 2004. Yet he never lost
sight of his love of the vast area of the cosmic universe called
outer space. Even as a small boy, he had a great love of every
aspect of this otherworldly and huge creation. As an adult, he
watched the stars, planets, and galaxies, and waited anxiously
for meteor showers, shooting stars or whatever other magnificent
show was being held in the sky after sunset, from wherever he
found himself. I remember him once stopping the car late one dark
night on a road somewhere in the wilderness of Arizona called
Devil Dog Road. We were on our way to the Grand Canyon with my
brother and his wife. We still talk about that day. The sky was
so black it felt as if you could just reach up and grab a star
out of the sky. And there were the times he would set up the telescope
in the back yard at midnight and wait for the next performance
to be played out in the heavens. He simply treasured these quiet
moments and sharing them with all of us.
Similarly, Bill was a very quiet and soft-spoken person, as gentle
as the great sky within which he is now circling, and every time
we look up at night, we can imagine him smiling down and waving
to us from his space capsule. Out there in the vast universe,
he is truly home at last.
The Wife of William F. Stonaker,