Theodrick Bland Norris Theodrick Bland Norris of Blacksburg, Virginia, passed away on Friday, February 22, 2013, at 85 years of age. He was a United States Navy veteran of World War II serving in the Western Pacific and was an engineering graduate of the University of Virginia class of 1950. He was employed by the United States Navy Department Bureau of Aeronautics and participated in the development of the steam Catapult, Landing systems required for operation of new Navy jet aircraft aboard the Forestall Class Aircraft Carriers. In 1958, he joined the Navy Special Projects Office, developing the Polaris Fleet Ballistic Missile. In 1959, he joined the newly formed NASA as Program Manager of the Thor Delta unmanned Space Launch Vehicle. During his career he and contributed to the launch of many early Science and Applications Satellites including Telstar, Tiros and Syncom. He became program Manager for the Centaur launch vehicle and was a principal contributor in the launch of the Surveyor Series (first spacecraft to soft land on the moon); the Mariner Mars (First spacecraft to orbit another planet); the Pioneer C (first spacecraft to the planet Jupiter and beyond); and the Mariner Mercury (first spacecraft to the planet Mercury). In 1979, he retired from NASA and was employed by Perkin Elmer Corporation as the Director of Advanced Planning. He was commissioned a "Pathfinder of the Celestial Seas" for his contributions to the exploration of the solar system and served as President of the National Space Club in 1986-1987. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Kathleen Whitson of Erwin, Tennessee; three daughters, Patricia Bland Morse and Terry of Blacksburg, Virginia, Priscilla Anne Masters and Eric of Great Falls, Virginia, and Mary Armistead Norris and Dan of Blacksburg, Virginia; and seven beloved grandsons. Visitation will be held at Hill and Wood Funeral Home in Charlottesville starting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 13, 2013, followed by a memorial service at Christ Episcopal Church at 11 a.m., and a graveside service at Monticello Memory Gardens. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to Good Samaritan Hospice in Christiansburg, Virginia, or to your local hospice. We have also set up a Memorial Fund at UVA for the College of Engineering. Donations can be sent to: UVA Alumni Association, P.O. Box 400314, Charlottesville, VA 22904 (Please note that the donation is for the Bland Norris Memorial Fund)
This obituary was originally published in the Daily Progress.