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  • "Bless you and rest in peace. You were the best boss I ever..."
    - Mary Ann Thibodeau
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COAR--Richard, Died peacefully at his home in Roanoke, VA, on December 29, 2013. He was 92. During his career, Coar's technical insight and management expertise contributed greatly to advances in aerospace propulsion. Richard John Coar was born in Hanover, NH, on May 2, 1921. He grew up in Hanover and in Kingston, MA, near Boston. As a boy, he worked in the local cranberry bogs, and declared years later that he pursued his engineering studies so vigorously because he never wanted to pick cranberries again. An outstanding student in high school, Coar won a four year scholarship to Tufts University's engineering school. He was awarded his Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering summa cum laude in 1942. He was a member of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society, equivalent to Phi Beta Kappa for the humanities. Before his final year at Tufts, Coar had been a summer intern in the engineering department at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, in East Hartford, CT. After he was graduated, he returned as a full-time test engineer, with his initial assignments supporting the company's manufacturing activities for engines powering the majority of the military aircraft flown by the United States in World War II. After the War, Coar began a steady rise in responsibilities with Pratt & Whitney, and later with United Technologies Corporation, P&W's parent company. He was one of the key individuals who led Pratt & Whitney into gas turbine engine design and development, and was involved with every major P&W engine program. In 1956 he became the Chief Engineer at the Florida Research and Development Center in West Palm Beach, FL, which was the company's space and military engine organization. He had technical responsibility for the design and development of advanced propulsion systems, including the J58 Mach 3+ turbojet for the SR-71 "Blackbird" airplane, the pioneering RL-10 hydrogen-fueled rocket engine, high pressure rocket research, and the initial development of the jet engines powering many of the country's frontline military aircraft. In 1971, he was made a vice president and returned to Connecticut. He was responsible for commercial as well as military engine development, and oversaw the introduction of the powerful turbofan engines that made jumbo jets possible and revolutionized commercial air travel. In 1976 he became the executive vice president, and in 1983 he was named president of Pratt & Whitney. In 1984, Coar became the executive vice president of United Technologies. He retired in 1986. Coar had many lifelong interests and avocations, including golf and fine music. His family and colleagues marveled at his collection of orchestral recordings - and the audio equipment he used for listening to it. He became a dedicated sailor, and remarked after his first year with his own sailboat that he'd learned more about subsonic aerodynamics than he had in the previous 30 years. Coar was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and a distinguished life member of the American Society for Metals. He served on the National Research Council's Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. Additional honors include the Society of Automotive Engineers' Franklin W. Kolk Air Transportation Award in 1985 and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' prestigious George Westinghouse Gold Medal in 1986. He received the Daniel Guggenheim Medal in 1998 for notable achievement in the advancement of aeronautics. He held more than a dozen patents. Coar was predeceased by his wife Cecilie Berle in 1971, and by his wife Lucille Hicks in 2013. He is survived by his son Gregory, of San Diego, CA; his daughter Candace, of Roanoke, VA; his daughter Andrea Tittle, of Pittsburg, CA; his son Kenneth, of Raleigh, NC; and his brother Roger, of Redondo Beach, CA.

Published in The New York Times on Jan. 12, 2014
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