Memorial Spaceflights

Henry Leo Bestor and Marilyn Ione Bestor

"We miss you very much"

Henry Bestor and Ione Robinson met at a high school football game in Orion, Illinois in 1947. He was back from service in the Occupational Forces of Japan, and she was there with her sister, a cheerleader. It was a coup de foundre for both of them, and they were married within the year. They returned to Urbana, Illinois, where Henry finished his degree in Aeronautical Engineering in three years, and Ione worked in the Office of the Registrar. They had their first child and his graduation within a few weeks of each other, and then were off to California, where Henry worked for Boeing Aircraft. They found life in Culver City "too fast," and returned to the midwest where he found work with McDonald Aircraft in St Louis. He worked on such aircraft as the Phantom, Demon, and Voodoo jets. In the late 50s, he was tapped to join the Original Design team for what would become the first manned space flight, Freedom 7.

The family relocated to Cocoa Beach, Florida, a very small town at the time but soon to experience huge growth as the space program geared up. It was a fabulous time, when science and learning were prized, society was changing, and Henry and Ione were right in the middle of all of it. The spark was always strong between them and they had six children (Teresa, Timothy, Tracy, Ted, Trudy and Todd) in ten years, all of whom will be on hand to witness their Celestial journey, perfectly fitting for two people who had so much first hand experience. Henry worked on all the the manned space flights until the middle 70s.

They returned to St Louis, which they found very staid after Cocoa Beach, but Henry continued his work on the Space Shuttle and a proposed plan to drill to the center of the earth, now with McDonnell Douglas and later Boeing.

On a business trip to Eglin Air Force Base, Ione found a house in Ft Walton she loved, and bought it. She was a strong woman with vision, and knew it was time to get back to Florida. Henry found work with Orlando Technology, and didn't retire until he was 74. They enjoyed being back in Florida, and Ione has the time to develop into a wonderful artist, particularly in watercolors, and won many prizes in juried exhibitions for her work.

Sadly, Ione began to suffer ischemic strokes and developed dementia. Henry and daughter Tracy cared for her diligently until her death at home in 2010. Henry was devastated, but Tracy created a household for the two of them for many years. His mind was as sharp as ever, opinionated and irascible until the end, when he died quickly of a stroke in 2022. There are no two people than Henry and Ione more suited to be joined together forever in space flight. They were not religious, but I think they would appreciate this wish: Godspeed.

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