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Wayne Alexander '42 November 19, 2019 10:27 AM updated: November 19, 2019 10:29 AM

Published in the Los Angeles (CA) Times on Nov. 19, 2019

Wayne D. Alexander
1921 - 2019

February 22, 1921 - October 17, 2019 Wayne D. Alexander (Alex), age 98, died October 17, 2019, at the apartment in Arcadia, California, he shared with his wife of 72 years, Gene P. Alexander. Alex was born February 22, 1921 in Yankton, South Dakota, to Dewitt Alexander and Inez (Brown) Alexander. His younger brother Willard and younger sister Cora predeceased him. On May 31, 1947, he married Gene Porter, who would survive him by nine days. Alex is survived by their two children, [Lynn] Wayne Alexander (Cheri) and Jon Michael Alexander-Hills (Laurie), both of Los Angeles, CA, and by their grandchildren, Marley Alexander of Oakland, CA, and Makulumy Alexander-Hills of New York, NY. Alex's father was a bricklayer and moved the family from job to job. His parents divorced when he was 12. He and his brother Willard lived with his father in Henderson, Texas, after that, and during the Great Depression were forced to work various jobs to survive and attend school. At one point during high school Alex was working three jobs – delivering the newspaper, working in the newspaper print plant, and milking cows (his pay was a bucket of milk each day). Alex graduated from Henderson High School, after which he attended Texas A&M, receiving a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1942. He would later attend Cal State Los Angeles in the 1960s while working full-time, receiving an MBA in 1969. After the US entered World War II Alex joined the Navy as a pilot trainee in 1942, and then became a Marine Corps fighter pilot. He flew multiple combat tours in 1943 and 1944 in the Solomon Islands, flying F4U's and Vought Corsairs off aircraft carriers in the South Pacific. He advanced from Lieutenant to Captain during the war. He stayed in the USMC Reserve, flying fighter planes on weekends, until 1951. After the war, Alex became a rocket engineer, working on the ramjet engine that powered the X-15 and Nike missiles. Then he moved over to satellites and worked on OSO (orbiting solar observatory), Ranger and Voyager, and the first generation of geosynchronous telecommunication satellites, working at various points in his career in East Texas, Southern California, Ogden, Utah, Littleton, Colorado, Boulder, Colorado and again Southern California, for General Dynamics, Lone Star Aviation, Marquardt, Martin, Ball Brothers, JPL and finally Hughes Aircraft. A devoted husband and father, Alex took the family on national park and camping vacations and encouraged his sons to be Boy Scouts to learn survival and camping skills. Alex, who could fix, upgrade or repair nearly anything, from houses to cars to appliances and electronics, spent much of his leisure time doing just that, and passed those skills on to his sons. Alex and his father built the house in Longview, Texas, where he, his wife and son Wayne lived from 1953 to 1956. Into his 80s he would climb onto the roof of their La Crescenta house and wriggle into the crawl space to work on plumbing and air conditioning, and anything else that went wrong. Much to his annoyance, his children forced him to give up driving at 92 when there were scratches and dings on all four sides of his car. A private memorial is scheduled November 24, 2019.


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