William "Bill" Easterbrook |
William George "Bill" Easterbrook,
an aeronautical engineer who designed the wings for the 737 airplane, died on Thursday, June 6 from complications of cancer after a brief illness.
Bill was born in Sumas, WA in 1932, the son of George and Helen Easterbrook. He attended Mount Baker High School in Deming WA, where he lettered in football, playing on both the offensive and defensive line, played basketball, and donned the traditional Mt Baker Mountaineer's kilt to play the cornet in the school band.
Pursuing a lifelong fascination with airplanes and flight, Bill started college at Western Washington University, transferring one year later to the University of Washington, where he graduated in 1955 with a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering. He later returned to the UW to earn his M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering in 1962.
Bill spent his career as an aeronautical engineer at the Boeing Company, where he was involved with many of the commercial airplanes developed and produced by Boeing, including the 707 and it's prototype the Dash 80, the 737, versions of the 757, and the Supersonic Transport (SST). He was most proud of his work on the high speed (cruise) aerodynamic configuration of the wing of the original 737, his favorite airplane, spending many long days and nights in the model shop and the wind tunnel.
Bill's interests in engineering and science were both broad and deep: even in retirement, he continued to read and learn, with particular attention to classical and quantum physics, but wandering through other fields as his interest dictated. Bill even dabbled in the history of science, and could be roused from the deepest contemplation by the promise of a new story about Feynman.
Growing up in the foothills of Mount Baker, Bill early learned a love of the outdoors, exploring, hiking, fishing, and skiing with his brother Don. An early member of REI and the Mountaineers, Bill climbed Washington State's highest peaks and hiked extensively throughout the Olympics and Cascades. Bill shared his enthusiasm for outdoor pursuits with his wife and both children: an expert skier and a patient father, some of his family's best memories with Bill are of long hikes and ski trips throughout the Cascades.
As a teen, Bill met his future wife Helen Carol Easterbrook ne;e Methven on the ski slopes of Mount Baker. Meeting again at the University of Washington while both were pursuing their undergraduate degrees, they later married. Bill and Carol celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary last fall.
Past Deacon, Team Leader, and Usher at Bellevue First Presbyterian Church, Bill also served as President of the Surrey Downs Community Club, as a coach for Little League and youth Basketball, and most recently, as a Docent at The Museum of Flight. Bill also took great pleasure in his involvement with a group of Boeing retired engineers, the Classics Reunion, and with the Mount Baker Lunch Bunch. In his retirement, Bill and Carol bicycled through Europe on multiple trips, with friends old and new.
In addition to his wife Carol, Bill is also survived by his son Scott Easterbrook, Scott's wife Kristin Easterbrook and their children Amelia and Anton, by his daughter Karen Easterbrook and Karen's husband Alex Sutton, by his brother Don Easterbrook and Don's wife Ellen Easterbrook, by sister-in-law Marilyn Methven, and numerous cousins, nephews, and nieces, all an important part of his life.
The family will be holding a reception for extended family, friends, and colleagues of Bill on Thursday, June 20. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Museum of Flight, or Habitat for Humanity.
Published in The Seattle Times on June 16, 2013