William J.D. Escher
Bill Escher passed away Monday, May 12, 2014 in Huntsville, AL at the age of 82. Bill had battled valiantly on several health fronts. He died quietly at Huntsville Hospital with family by his side. He was born December 18, 1931 in Atlanta, GA the son of William and Veeda (Hobart) Escher. Bill attended Cornell University and was a graduate of George Washington University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Bill is survived by his beloved wife of 56 years, Loretta, of Huntsville, AL; four children: daughter Melanie Escher of Glendale, CA; son Daric (Michelle) Escher of Indianapolis, IN; son Justin Escher of Kalamazoo, MI; and daughter Lauryn (Curt) Eisenhower of Ashburn, VA; and nine grandchildren: Evan and Liam Spires; Grant Nail and Griffin Escher; Riston and Halle Escher; Samantha, Reece and Quinn Eisenhower.
He had a long and wonderful career in aerospace spanning more than 60 years. He served in the Army and while he was assigned to Naval Research Laboratory, he was a countdown officer for the Vanguard rocket program in 1957. He was later employed by NASA (Lewis, Marshall, and Headquarters), Marquardt, Kaiser-Marquardt, North American Rockwell and Rocketdyne, Astronautics Corporation of America, University of Toronto, Escher Technology Assoc., Escher-Foster Technology Assoc., SAIC, and SpaceWorks. Additionally, he was a founding member of the International Institute for Hydrogen Energy.
Bill was a tireless champion of combined-cycle propulsion and low-cost reusable space access. He wrote over a hundred technical papers on this subject. In 1988, Bill was awarded the prestigious AIAA George M. Low Space Transportation Award for excellence in the field of space transportation. His Low award citation reads:
"For outstanding and sustained contributions to the field of space transportation, from Vanguard to Spaceliner, and for tirelessly promoting a vision for low cost, reliable access to space based on the Synerjet combined-cycle engine.”
Bill was also a leader in the area of hydrogen energy. He founded Escher Technology Associates, (later Escher-Foster Technology) in 1972 to provide leadership, vision and technical expertise in the development of the hydrogen energy economy. He was a founding member of the International Hydrogen Energy Association.
Bill was also a proud supporter of the Boy Scouts of America having achieved Eagle Scout and served multiple times as a Scout leader. He was an accomplished athlete running track at both the high school and college level. His passions included spending time with his family, classical music, gardening, his Porsche 356, and of course, astronomy.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the Boy Scouts of America.
There will be a memorial service at Magnolia Trace Retirement Community in Huntsville Thursday, May 15th at 2pm. He will be interred in St. Johns, MI.