KIRCHNER, Werner R. Born July 18, 1918, Werner passed away peacefully at his home in Arcadia on March 6, 2008. Survived by Deirdre, his devoted wife of 65 years, and his loving son Christopher. A man of extraordinary talents and charm, Werner took off in his Spitfire in 1940 and never really landed. His remarkable career soared as a pioneer in the field of solid propellant rocketry, leading R&D at Aerojet for the Navy's Polaris FMB, as well as many other projects including the Titan missile, the Nerva nuclear rocket, and the Apollo Service Module. He was the recipient of numerous awards for outstanding contributions in the field of rocketry including the first James H. Wyld and Propulsion Award, and the Navy's Meritorious Public Service Citation. He never retired, working in his office in San Dimas until his recent illness. When asked once why he kept working so late in life, he replied "I don't have time to have time on my hands." An extremely accomplished fencer, Werner won the Pacific Coast Saber Championship in 1957, and represented the United States in the World Fencing Championships in Havana Cuba in 1969. With a wit as quick and ready as his blade, he never failed to win the hearts and minds of those fortunate to have known, admired, and loved this singular man. He was truly a Man for All Seasons. Memorial services will be held on March 22 at Live Oak Memorial Park, Monrovia, at 11 a.m.
Published in Los Angeles Times on Mar. 13, 2008.