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Gary Jay Close

1940 - 1999

"My spirit roams the stars"

Jason Baringer
We wish Gary well on this his Ultimate Journey and thank him for his remarkable life. His family and friends do miss him.


or his entire life, Gary Close had a keen interest in science and space. He was born on January 16, 1940, in Fairmont, West Virginia. In junior high school, Gary and a friend founded the first astronomy club in the area.

As an adult Gary traveled extensively, mailing to his family a flow of postcards from exotic places throughout the world. For a while, he even worked in the space program. He finally settled in the Roanoke, Virginia, area.

In Roanoke he began his long association with the Science Museum of Western Virginia. He devoted his life to the teaching of astronomy, beginning as a museum volunteer and eventually becoming the Director of the Hopkins Planetarium. Gary enjoyed sharing his love and knowledge of space by conducting countless star shows at the planetarium for students of all ages, and by participating in many international astronomy conferences.

Gary also combined his passion for star gazing with hiking, serving as an officer and trail maintainer of the Appalachian Trail Club.

Space and science remained Gary's first love, even at his untimely death on February 1, 1999. He left his collection of more than 1,100 volumes of science fiction books to the local Science Fiction Club. His collection of telescopes and star charts are used today by the Roanoke Valley Astronomical Society in which he was an active force.

Perhaps Gary's greatest legacy is the MegaDome 70-mm Theater inside the Hopkins Planetarium, his brainchild. The project has been funded in part by his estate.

During his life, Gary enriched the lives of so many people with his noted "Gary Humor" and his love of space and science. He continues to do so with his unselfish gifts.

Gary's last request was to have his ashes sent into space, where his dreams have always resided. We wish Gary well on this his Ultimate Journey and thank him for his remarkable life. His family and friends do miss him.

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