Dr. Leo Windecker

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  • "I had the honor of meeting and caring for this sweet man...."
  • " He was a friend and a great boss"
    - Terry Morgan
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    - Tommy Laird
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    - Dan Hatch
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    - Kathy Yandell

Dr. Leo Windecker, 88, the legendary aircraft designer and creator of the first military STEALTH prototype, who passed away Saturday, February 13, 2010 in Cedar Park, Texas. The words of the John Denver song could have been written about Dr. Winddecker; What one man can do is dream. What one man can do is love. What one man can do is change the world and make it new again. Here, you see what one man can do! Born in Gull Lake, Saskatchewan on July 9, 1921, Leo was the oldest of the four children of the Reverend Konrad and Frieda Loos Windecker. He grew up in Karnes City, Texas, where his father served as pastor to the German-speaking communities south of San Antonio. He married Pearl Rolf of Kenedy, TX in 1942, one month before enlisting in the Army Medical Corps. He served as a medic on Guadalcanal and Espirtu Santos during World War II, receiving an Army Commendation for discovering the cause of the dysentery that was the greatest cause of death for our troops in the South Pacific Theatre. Discharged with a Purple Heart for injuries he received in a Japanese bombing attack, he returned to Texas, graduating from the University of Texas Dental School in Houston in 1948. Leo and Pearl had two sons, Robert "Bob" and Theodore "Ted" Windecker. Dr. Leo Windecker opened his first dental practice in Lake Jackson, TX later that year. In 1952 he was joined by his second wife, Houston prosthetic dentist Dr. Fairfax Windecker. They authored a paper on "immediate denture insertion" that was published in dental journals around the world and the procedure is still in wide use. After his first flying lesson in 1956, Dr. Windecker started experimenting with fiberglass "composite" materials that could make airplanes stronger and safer. His experiments led to a research grant from the Texas Division of the Dow Chemical Company in Lake Jackson, TX. He and Fairfax closed their dental practice and spent the rest of their careers researching the application of composites to aircraft. The project moved to Midland, TX in 1962. The Windecker "Eagle" made its first flight in 1967 and won Federal Aviation Administration Certification in 1969, the first all-composite airplane ever approved. Today, most new airplane designs are made from composites. Three Windecker Eagles are in aviation museums, including the prestigious Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. In 1971, Leo Windecker had another "world-changing" idea. Knowing that radar passes through fiberglass composites, he proposed to the US Air Force that he could build an airplane that was completely radar-invisible. After two years of research and development, the U.S. Air Force YE-5 Stealth prototype was delivered and went into top-secret testing. It has been reported that today's stealth aircraft all use Leo Windecker's technology. Leo flew his personal Windecker Eagle throughout the United States and Canada. In 1986 he gave his beloved airplane to the Lake Jackson Historical Society Museum, where it hangs in the rotunda, honoring the city's first dentist and the Dow Chemical Company, who made the Eagle possible. In 2003 he was inducted into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame. He is nominated for the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, OH. After losing his spouse, Leo met Julia Kay of Odessa and they married in 1990, experiencing a wonderful retirement lifestyle together. They moved to Key Allegro in Rockport, TX where they enjoyed boating and fishing in the Gulf as well as traveling throughout the country in their motor home. In 1994 they traveled to Germany to show Leo's grandson, Forrest Windecker, the family castles, alt Windeck and neu Windeck, perched in the Black Forest overlooking the Rhine River. Leo and Julia later relocated to Fredericksberg, before finally settling in Cedar Park to be near family. Leo Windecker earned his permanent wings Saturday, February 13, 2010. He is survived by his loving wife of 19 years, Julia, of Cedar Park, Texas, three sons, Moody "Skipper" Hamilton and his wife, Deni of New Braunfels, TX, Robert Windecker and his wife, Judy of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and Ted Windecker and his wife, Charlotte of Lakeway, TX. Leo considered Julia's three children his "bonus family" - Dr. Charles "Chocky" Kay and his wife Kathy of Aurora, CO, Linda Fulkerson and her husband, Skip of Austin, TX and Anne Hill of Midland, TX. He has six grand-children, five "bonus" grand-children, one great-grandson, seven "bonus" great-grandchildren and 2 brothers; Reverend Windecker, Dr. Roland Windecker, and sister Anita Windecker. In lieu of flowers, the family requests you consider a donation to: The Lake Jackson Historical Society Museum 249 Circle Way, Lake Jackson, TX 77566 or The Texas Aviation Hall of Fame PO. Box 3099 Galveston, TX 77522-0099. Funeral services will be held at 10:00 AM, Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at Beck Funeral Home in Cedar Park. Interment will follow at 3:00 PM in Mission Park South Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.

Published in Midland Reporter-Telegram on Feb. 16, 2010
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