"Edsel D. Dunford dies at 73; Cold War aerospace engineer, TRW president"
October 8th, 2008
Los Angeles Times
October 8th, 2008
Los Angeles Times
Edsel D. Dunford, a former TRW Inc. president and aerospace engineer who helped develop pioneering satellites for the U.S. during the Cold War, died Friday. He was 73.
Dunford died at his home in Rolling Hills after kidney cancer that was diagnosed in July spread to his brain, said his wife, Lorie.
A longtime South Bay resident, Dunford spent most of his aerospace career at the sprawling Space Park complex in Redondo Beach, where TRW developed missiles and satellites throughout the Cold War.
Dunford retired as president of TRW in 1994 after a career that spanned 30 years, much of it in an atmosphere of tension with the Soviet Union.
Since the 1960s, Dunford had "played a significant role in the design and development of U.S. space systems," including communication satellites for the U.S. military and space-based observatories for NASA, said Northrop Grumman Corp., which acquired TRW in 2002, in a statement.
Though most of his work with military systems remains classified, Dunford was involved in the development of Milstar, a constellation of satellites that the U.S. military still uses to communicate.
For NASA, Dunford was responsible for the design of Pioneer 10, the first satellite to travel beyond the solar system, and the payload for the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System, one of the more complex communications systems ever built.
Dunford also led the division that built what became known as the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, a satellite that helped astronomers study some of the more enigmatic phenomena in space, including black holes, pulsars and supernovae, for nearly a decade. The satellite was brought down in 2000.
As general manager of TRW's space sector in the late 1980s, Dunford also oversaw painful job cuts at Space Park as the end of the Cold War led to a slowdown in defense spending. More than 3,000 positions were eliminated.
"When you are growing rapidly, you add a lot of new capability," Dunford said in 1989 in The Times. "In a tougher market, you want to make sure you use those capabilities in the best way."
In 1991, Dunford was named TRW president and chief operating office. He retired three years later at 59.
He co-wrote and co-produced "The Cold War and Beyond," a feature-length documentary that included rare interviews with U.S. and Russian officials who were on opposite ends of the conflict.
The documentary, which debuted at the 2002 Hollywood Film Festival, was one of his more passionate projects, according to his wife.
"He had insights on the Cold War that few had," she said.
The son of George Washington Dunford, Edsel Delano Dunford was born in 1935 in North Dakota and grew up poor on a subsistence farm there.
After serving in the U.S. Army for four years, Dunford earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington and a master's in engineering from UCLA.
In addition to his wife, Dunford is survived by his sons, Wyman, Stan and Philip; a daughter, Marlo Garrett; his stepchildren, Matt Henning and Abbey Greene; and 10 grandchildren.
"Former TRW president Edsel D. Dunford dies at 73"
October 6th, 2008
October 6th, 2008
Edsel D. Dunford, a former TRW Inc. president and longtime South Bay resident, died Friday. He was 73.
Dunford died after a long battle with cancer, according to Northrop Grumman Corp., which purchased TRW in 2002.
The Rolling Hills resident, "played a significant role in the design and development of U.S. space systems, from early missions to the planets to complex communications, command, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems," Century City-based Northrop said in a statement Monday.
In 1961, Dunford started his aerospace career at Ford Aeronutronics.
In 1964, he joined TRW, spending most of his career at the company's Redondo Beach-based space and defense business.
In his 30 years with TRW, Dunford rose through the ranks, being appointed executive vice president and general manager of the Redondo Beach business in 1987. Four years later, he was elected president and chief operating officer at TRW's corporate headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. Dunford retired from that position in 1994.
"He was involved in just about every one of the major space programs that TRW was involved with from the '60s forward," said Dan McClain, a Northrop vice president of communications who had served under Dunford. "To me, he personified the sense of the old-school steely-eyed missile men. He was a true Cold War warrior and one of the people who made sure our country remained secure during that scary time."
McClain also remembered Dunford as warm with "a really good sense of humor."
Dunford was honored as a member the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He also served as chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association.
In addition, the aerospace veteran served on several U.S. government advisory groups, including as chairman of the U.S. Air Force/National Research Council committee to evaluate the National Aerospace Initiative in 2004.
Dunford served in the U.S. Army before earning a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington and a master's degree in engineering from UCLA. He also completed the Executive Program at Stanford University.
UCLA and the University of Washington schools of engineering each honored Dunford as Alumnus of the Year. USC's Viterbi School of Engineering selected him for the Daniel J. Epstein Engineering Management Award in 1993.
After leaving TRW, Dunford co-wrote and co-produced a documentary called "The Cold War and Beyond," which included both U.S. and Russian perspectives on that period. The film aired in 2003, and was a finalist at the Hollywood Film Festival that year.
Dunford is survived by his wife, Lorie, sons, Wyman, Stan and Philip, daughter Marlo Garrett and stepchildren Matt Henning and Abbey Greene.