Francis J. Honey, passed away peacefully on Sept. 4, 2012. He suffered chronic heart disease for years and in 2011 was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. His family was with him to say good-bye. His dog, Vera, was also there.
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The only child of Rollah E. Honey and Frances W. Mason Honey, he was born at home in Miltonvale, Kan. on May 16, 1932. The family moved to Wichita, Kan. in 1943 and Francis graduated from East High School in 1950. He financed his college education by working at Boeing Aircraft Co. during summers. He graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering in 1957 from Kansas State College (now University). His first semester, he met his future wife Barbara Lee Hunt in Algebra class. They were married in Manhattan, Kan. on Valentine's Day, 1953. Barbara often said Francis was the only good thing she got out of Algebra.
Wanting to experience life outside of Kansas, Francis accepted a job at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Cali. His initial assignment was as the final inspector for the Explorer satellite, which means his name has circled the Earth many times. Deciding that California had lost its charm, Francis, Barbara and their first child Aaron, moved to Denver, Colo. in 1960 where Francis worked for the Denver Research Institute of the University of Denver. In 1961, the family grew when Wayne was born. In 1962, Francis went to an airbase in Japan where he and a technician monitored Soviet nuclear tests for six months. Then they moved their equipment to John Hay Air Base in the Philippines. Barbara and the two boys were able to join him there and the family enjoyed that culture for one year. After returning to Denver, their two girls, Meagan and Rachel, were born.
In 1968, Francis earned a master of science in electrical engineering degree from the University of Denver. He took a new professional tack when he became the first paid employee of a start-up company Computer Image. He built the engineering department which successfully merged engineering and artistic endeavors to create some of the first computer graphics. The early Sesame Street programs featured their work. He was able to work with Jim Henson, the Smothers Brothers and Ringo Starr while there.
Making another 180? professional turn, Francis came to the Los Alamos National Lab in 1972 with the Timing and Firing Group (J-8). He became Group Leader and earned the respect of the staff for his leadership. Many viewed him as the fairest manager they worked with. The Lab was a completely different culture from any of his previous experiences and it took a while for him to appreciate life in a small town. After suffering a severe heart attack in 1990 and getting six bypasses, he retired from the Lab. But a year later he rejoined J-8 as a consultant and spent many more weeks at the Nevada Test Site until the doctors said enough is enough!
Throughout his life, Francis enjoyed running each morning, when he said he had his best problem solving thoughts. He always had a dog or two to run with him. The family bought an RV in 1976 and over the years enjoyed traveling to many states and into the Baja. In Colorado, he and friends climbed several 14,000 ft. peaks and he continued mountain hiking in New Mexico. Francis shared his love for this sport with his children and several of their friends.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara; son Aaron (partner Robert Villegas) of Los Alamos; son Wayne of Santa Fe; daughter Meagan Dowler (Robert) of Fairbanks, Ala.; and daughter Rachel Askeland (John) of Ft. Collins, Colo.; grandchildren: Hayden, Cameron, Julie and Rebecca Dowler of Fairbanks, Ala., Matthew and Justin Evans, Gracie and Luke Askeland of Ft. Collins, Colo., Elijah and Lia Honey of Santa Fe; several nieces and nephews.
Friends are invited to join the family in a celebration of his life to be held from noon to 2:00 p.m. on Sept. 8, 2012 at DeColores Restaurant in Los Alamos. Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the USO, Easter Seals or the
. The family of Francis J. Honey have entrusted the care of their loved one to DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the Espa?ola Valley. 505-747-7477 or devargasfuneral.com
Published in Los Alamos Monitor from September 6 to September 9, 2012