Walter "Walt" Neal Randle fell asleep in death at home on April 15, 2021. The youngest of six children, Walt was born December 16, 1932, in Sterling City, Texas, to Lydia Dupuy-Randle and John Peyton Randle.
His mother and 5 of her children moved to Portales, New Mexico, in 1938.
As a youngster, he won a model airplane contest. The prize - an airplane ride! And thus began his lifelong love of flying. Walt graduated from high school in 1951 with a remarkable class that has continued to meet, maintaining lifelong friendships. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, in 1955. While painting his mother's house on a trip home from college, he saw and fell in love the pretty girl across the street, Cova Furr. They were married on July 26, 1956.
Walt served in the US Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base, Edwards, California from 1955-1958. His last duty assignment was as Chief, Operations Section, Missile Facilities Division. A stellar highlight of Walt's aerospace career was directing the design and other aspects of one of the largest telescope facilities in the world and the largest for electro-optical satellite surveillance. While at Rockwell, he was Program Manager of the Phillips Laboratory Program of the Advanced Electro-Optical System, being responsible for the installation of the 3.67-meter telescope at the Maui, Hawaii, Space Surveillance Site on the summit of Haleakala. Another outstanding highlight was the invention of a liquid fluorine (type of rocket fuel) sampler, patented in 1972.
Walter had a positive, appreciative attitude: almost every day was a beautiful day, he felt great, and meals were always delicious. His work, whether cutting edge technology, remodeling or chopping wood was a gift to be proud of and grateful for. Feeling he had more than he ever expected, he was incredibly generous. Walt was a history buff and especially enjoyed discussing history topics with his daughter in his later years. She recalls that when she was a little girl, after watching a movie with her, he would pull out the encyclopedia to show her what part of the movie was fabricated and what was fact. To him, learning was not simply schooling but a lifelong journey that brings joy.
He is survived by his cherished daughter Anitra Sue Jackson (Curtis), numerous nieces and nephews, and Sonja Cross, who lovingly cared for him in his later years. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Vera Murphy, and his brothers John, George, Hogan, and Grady Randle.
A virtual memorial service will be held so friends and family from near and far may attend.
Published in The Durango Herald on May 12, 2021.