Werner Kirchner
{ "" }
Share Werner's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
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.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Los Angeles Times on Mar. 13, 2008.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
11 entries
March 26, 2008
Vern and I worked many years during both our careers and gained much during that time for our benefit as engineers and friends.
Bob Davis
March 22, 2008
It was a life experience - for several decades -
to have known, socialized (and lifted a few) with this remarkable, warm, explorative, polymathic human being.
In fond remembrance: Na Zdrowie, Werner!
Larry Thompson
March 21, 2008
An accomplished engineer,executive,
bon vivant and raconteur,Werner will
be sorely missed by his friends at the
bimonthly Aerojet Alumni meetings at
Caltech which he organized,and hosted for twenty five-plus years
Edward Ansell
March 20, 2008
A truly remarkable man. His leadership and innovation in the development of the propulsion system for our country's first sea-based ballistic missile system, Polaris, was an outstanding contribution to our national security. Never a pessimist no matter how rough the road and also a fantastic gin rummy player.
Chet Zimmerman
March 20, 2008
I have known "Vernon" for over 65 years - sat on his lap in a Spitfire, went to his wedding as a small boy. He gave me my first job after college at Aerojet. I will miss this remarkable man more than I can say!
Michael Wash
March 19, 2008
It was truly a privilege to know and work with Werner. He was a wonderful individual. In addition to his technical knowledge, he had a terrific sense of humor. He will be missed.
Eli and Evelyn Mishuck
March 19, 2008
I am proud to say he was my friend and sometimes mentor. A truly remarkable man, a genial giant in the world of rocketry and the very definition of "rocket scientist."
Bob Brown
March 17, 2008
Vern was my Boss at Space General. He was a pleasure to work with and a fine gentleman to know and talk to. He could urge you on to greater heights without your knowing you were being goaded. A loss to all of us Aerojet old timers!
Bob Brodsky
March 15, 2008
I worked for "Vern" for many years in the Soliid Rocket Plant and always found him a delight. Even in the high stress enviroment of the missle crisis when he was leading the Polaris development he always had a funny story.
Jack Heckel
March 14, 2008
A great guy, bon vivant, and a joy to be around. His engineering excellence was also mind boggling. Which is what Werner did best--mind boggling. Tom Sprague, Aerojet Public Relations
Tom Sprague
March 13, 2008
I was privledged o work for Vern at Aerojet Sacramento, as the chief of the Solid Rocket Plant Motion Picture Unit.
I was a delightful gentlemand a joy to work for.
Mitch Rose
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences