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Leo Celniker

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April 27, 1925 - April 24, 2015 Leo Celniker, a versatile, creative leading advanced design aeronautical engineer, worked on highly classified stealth aircraft design with Lockheed's Skunk Works, died in Walnut Creek, California, three days short of his 90th birthday. He graduated from MIT in 1948 with both a BS and an MS. WWII interrupted his education where he served two years in the Army Air Forces (1944-1946). His first major job was at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. In 1951, he was recruited by Lockheed California Company in Burbank to design the first supersonic jet fighter, the F-104, which flew in March 1954 and set a new world speed record of 1,404 mph. He finished his career working as the Chief Engineer of Special Projects, Advanced Design Projects Branch. Leo was born in Manhattan April 27, 1925, the son of Samuel and Francis Celniker. On May 25, 1953 he married Phyllis Finneran, who pre-deceased him in 2000. He is survived by his children, Susan, Lisa, and George, seven grandchildren and his brother, Robert and his family. Services will be held at 2 PM on August 23rd at Mount Sinai in Los Angeles. Contributions may be made to the Leo Celniker Fellowship which supports women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Mail checks to The Berkeley Lab Foundation, University of California, Office of the President, 1111 Franklin Street, 7th Floor, Oakland, CA 94607, or to the MIT Aero/Astro Undergraduate Fund #383-00820 which supports the undergraduate education environment. Mail checks to MIT Alumni Association, 600 Memorial Drive, W98-2nd Floor, Cambridge, MA 02139-4822.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Aug. 20 to Aug. 22, 2015
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