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David Williamson Jr. ’51

Published in Mar. 10, 1993, issue

David Williamson, one of the founding fathers of America's space program, died Oct. 8, 1992, after a fall in hi home in Bethesda, Md., ending a courageous 12year battle with cancer.

He was the son of diplomat David Williamson '18 and was born in Constantinople. He grew up in Europe and on Maryland's Eastern Shore. He prepared at St. Andrews in Newark, Del., and at Princeton was a varsity fencer and a member of Key and Seal. He was a lieutenant in the artillery for three years during the Korean War, then returned to Princeton to earn a cum laude degree in history with the Class of 1956.

David had a most distinguished government career. He joined NASA soon after it was created in 1959 and rose quickly through the ranks, serving as a top policy adviser to a succession of administrators. When he retired for health reasons in 1982, he was assistant administrator for special projectsa purposefully vague title that covered a multitude of responsibilities.

He then became a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, authoring monographs on defense and technology issues. He was called back to NASA in 1987, after the Challenger disaster. When he retired again, in 1990, he was one of the most decorated civilians in the agency's history.

David was an expert woodworker. He built furniture and enjoyed cooking, hunting, and fishing. He had recently completed a house of his own design on his beloved Eastern Shore.

David is survived by his wife of 38 years, Ruth Ann; children Anne and David 111 '84; brother Peter '57; and sisters Edith Kean s'47 and Lee Hitchcock. The Class and the country will miss this gifted public servant.

The Class of 1951

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