Memorial Spaceflights

Robert Lee Shrake

"Touch the stars!"

Robert Lee Shrake, formerly of La Ca_ada, California, passed away in 2007 from lung cancer. He and Barbara, his wife of 52 years, moved from La Ca_ada to Grapevine, Texas in 2007 to join their daughter, Robin Smith and her family.

Bob was born in La Cygne, Kansas in 1926. He was a World War II veteran, having served in the U.S. Army. Bob was shipped overseas for the invasion of Japan and was en-route when the war ended, serving the remainder of his enlistment as a member of the army of occupation in Japan.

Following the war, and after a brief period working as an instrument specialist for American Airlines and Bendix West Coast, Inc., Bob went to work at NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena as a member of the technical staff in January of 1957, where he spent the remainder of his working career until his retirement in 1989. Every day, he left his La Ca_ada home, and walked along the bridle path, carrying his lunch pail, up to the trailer on the hill to begin his workday. Bob worked in the Guidance and Control Section of the Actuators and Inertial Sensors Group, where he helped to design and build the guidance packages for a number of America's space exploration successes. Projects that he helped to build include the Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo, and Cassini-Huygens spacecraft. Retirement did not suit Bob, so he went back to work as a contractor at JPL, doing the same work that he had just retired from. Shortly afterward, Bob found something new to dote his attention upon in his grandson, and he retired for good three years later.

Bob enjoyed his time at JPL and was very proud of it, but he was also a devoted family man. He escorted two generations of his family through JPL's halls, instilling in his daughter and his grandson a love of science and space exploration. His grandson Tyler was inspired by his "Poppa" to some day pursue engineering as a career.

He is lovingly remembered for his patient spirit and dry wit. He is survived by his wife Barbara, daughter Robin Smith, son-in-law Chris Smith, grandson Tyler Lee Smith, all of Grapevine, Texas; and sister Doris Parton of California and Doris's two daughters, Judy Deal and Cathy Gonzales.

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