By Mary Alys Cherry
NASA FOLKS jokingly call former astronaut Dr. John Grunsfeld “the Hubble repairman.” As in Hubble Space Telescope and the thousands of miles he traveled on three space missions to repair it.
For that and his many other contributions to the space program over a span of 25 years, he was honored April 27 as the recipient of the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation’s National Space Trophy.
Former NASA Administrator Dr. Michael Griffin made the presentation at the 2017 RNASA Space Gala in the Downtown Houston Hyatt Regency Hotel April 28 before a crowd of nearly 800 Rotarians, educators and the space community, who cheered his many space accomplishments. Among them were five space missions including trips to the Hubble in 1999, 2003 and 2009 for a total of 58 days in space and 58 hours spent on 8 space walks and a host of other contributions, including his role as NASA’s chief scientist.
Afterwards Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Tom Stafford presented him with an Omega Watch. Both General Stafford and Dr. Griffin are former space trophy winners. In accepting the trophy, which stays on display for a year at Space Center Houston, Dr. Grunsfeld said, “I was inspired by so many people – John Glenn in particular. I also want to thank the American people who allow us to explore space.”
Rob Navias, known as the “Voice of Mission Control,” was presented the Space Communicator Award by Jeff Carr, president of Griffin Communications, who was introduced by the gala’s emcee, the always humorous PBS science commentator Miles O’Brien.
Looking around as RNASA President Rodolfo Gonzalez welcomed the crowd, you might have spotted Johnson Space Center Director Dr. Ellen Ochoa and Glenn Research Center Director Dr. Janet Kavandi and three other former Space Trophy winners — Eileen Collins, Glynn Lunney and Tommy Holloway taking their seats.
The guest list read like a Who’s Who in the space industry and included Boeing Vice Presidents John Elbon and John Shannon, Jacobs VP Lon Miller, Lockheed Martin VPs Lisa Callahan and Mike Hawes, Orbital ATK VP and GM Frank Mauro and Orbital Space Systems President Frank Culberson and KBRWyle President Dr. Vernon McDonald and VP Genie Bopp – many with their spouses.
Plus, Blue Origin CEO Rob Meyerson, Barrios CEO Sandy Johnson and President Robbie McAfoos, A2B Solutions CEO Alfred Boyd, MEI Technologies CEO David Cates, MRI Technologies owners Debbie and
Tim Kropp, Aerojet Rocketdyne VP Scott Ward, Oceaneering GM Mike Bloomfield, Bastion Technologies President Jorge Hernandez, Ares President Tom P’Simer, SAIC VP Mike Mazzella and Axiom Space President Mike Suffredini.
Other NASA luminaries included JSC Deputy Director Mark Geyer, Associate Director Dr. George Nield, Flight Operations Director Brian Kelly, Communications Manager James Hartsfield, General Counsel Bernard Roan, Safety Director Bill McArthur and Space Station Program Manager Kirk Shireman, plus a number of astronauts such as Dr. Kjell Lindgren and Dr. Kathleen Rubins, who passed out the Stellar Awards to some mighty deserving folks; and Michael Fossum, Patrick Forrester and Marsha Ivins.
Lots of Rotarians in the crowd, including Rotary District Gov. Eric Liu, Space Center Rotary President Darryl Smith and President-elect Ralph Kramer, plus Nancy Anderson, Geoff Atwater, Scott Rainey, Bill Taylor, John Branch, Bob Wren, Mike Porterfield, Delia Stephens, Gary Johnson and Mark Hollis and former members Frank Perez, Floyd Bennett and Donnie Johnson.
Judge Holly Williamson presents interesting ‘trial’
“HERE COMES de Judge,” someone said as Judge Holly Williamson arrived to present the program for the Bay Oaks Women’s Association, getting a smile as she walked by.
But instead of a speech, Judge Holly had an intriguing idea for the ladies luncheon, inviting one and all to take part in a “trial.” One was the prosecutor, another the defense attorney, another the defendant, and so on, with all who didn’t have key roles assigned seats on the jury.
Something different and quite enjoyable as Chris Howland, Amy Roppolo, Jane Daniels, Carlene Langford and Eileen Hult soon found out after being welcomed by President Jodi Schnabel and Vice President Suzanne Leatherman.
Some of the other faces in the crowd included Judie Ferguson, Carol Bobo, Carol Howard, Debbie Roan, Jo Nell Hunter, Jane Daniels, Susan McCoy, Angela Bivens, Jan Duffy, Susan Franklin, Courtney Atchley, Allyson Jackson and Debbie May, who began making plans for their big fall fashion show Sept. 7 spotlighting fall fashions from The Clothes Horse in League City.
Silver Tea honors Charles Smitherman
NOT MANY realize all he does, but without Charles Smitherman, Bay Area Museum probably wouldn’t be the pretty place it is today. So, it was only fitting that the Museum Guild chose him as the Silver Tea honoree.
In introducing him to the crowd, Silver Tea Chairman Missy Rorrer noted that “he has given literally hundreds of hours, overseeing renovation projects, repairing and restoring various areas of the museum, fundraising and making sure the museum was in good operating condition.” His work and dedication to this little museum is truly remarkable.
After moving here in 1987, he and his wife, Joy, who also served as president of the Museum Guild, have worked diligently to preserve and maintain the museum for the past 30 years.
Besides dozens of Lunar Rendezvous princesses and lieutenants and their parents, we spotted quite a few Guild members including Emmeline Dodd and Gene Hollier, Annette Dwyer, Carl and Diane Konick, Mary Ann Baxter, Judy Raiford, Anita Fogtman, Nancy Poffenberger, Eva Galt, Nina McGlashan and Wendell and Pat Wilson, to name a few.