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Dr. Raynor L. Duncombe

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Dr.  Raynor L. Duncombe Obituary
Dr. Raynor L. Duncombe Dr. Raynor L. Duncombe died at his residence in Austin, Texas on Friday, July 12, 2013 at the age of 96. Born in Bronxville, N.Y. in 1917, he was educated at Wesleyan University, with an M.A. from the University of Iowa in English literature and a PhD from Yale University in Astronomy. Dr. Duncombe worked as an astronomer at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. and was Director of the Nautical Almanac Office; until recently, he served as a professor of aerospace science at the University of Texas at Austin and was recently made professor emeritus. Dr. Duncombe was predeceased by his first wife, Avis Bailey Duncombe and by his second wife, Julena Steinheider Duncombe. Dr. Duncombe is survived by one son, Raynor Bailey Duncombe (Janice) of Middleburgh, N.Y., two grandchildren, Christina L. Duncombe of Chesapeake, VA and Raynor L. Duncombe (Heidi) of Mooresville, N.C. and their two children, his great grandchildren, Ava and Zack. Dr. Duncombe was a member of the NASA space science steering committee having worked on the Vanguard, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects and was instrumental in determining the orbit of Sputnik when launched by the Russians. He was a member of the Hubble Space Telescope Astrometry team and was past executive editor of Celestial Mechanics. He was a fellow of various astronomy associations and received numerous awards. Dr. Duncombe was a true renaissance man. He was as comfortable reciting poetry as he was discussing the universe. He learned to fly a plane, had perfect pitch and played several musical instruments, and was skilled at plumbing, carpentry and electrical work. Most of all he had a contagious sense of humor and a well grounded sense of self that was never boastful. He loved encouraging and aiding students in pursuit of their education. He enriched so many lives and will be sorely missed by those who knew him. A service will be held on Sunday, July 28, 2013, at 2:30 p.m. followed by a visitation with light refreshments at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home located at 3125 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin. An additional service, followed by a visitation will be held on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at noon at Bryant Grant Funeral Home located at Highway 64 E., Highlands, N.C. Highlands was Dr. Duncombe's summer home. Burial will be at a later date in Newtown, Connecticut. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the University of Texas, Department of Aerospace Engineering, 301 E. Dean Keeton C2100, Austin, Texas 78712-0287 with checks payable to UT Austin. Please include in the memo line: In Memory of Ray Duncombe. Obituary and guestbook available online at www.wcfish.com
Published in Austin American-Statesman on July 24, 2013
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