Philip W. Hampton
1931 - 2018
Philip William Hampton, 87, retired Rocket Scientist and Guinness Book World Record holder, died at home on Sunday, November 4, after a long life well lived.Phil was born 1 July 1931 and spent his early years in Chetek, Wisconsin. He served in the USAF from 1950 to 1954 as an airplane mechanic and flight engineer. He received a BS degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Northrop Institute of Technology in California, and later a Master of Science degree from the University of California. Following graduation from NIT in 1958, Phil was employed by Rocketdyne in Canoga Park, CA. This initiated a career lasting over 31 years in liquid rocket engine engineering development and launch operations. Over his career he worked on the Thor, Atlas, and F-1 missile engines. He was involved in the initial Thor and Atlas rocket launches from Vandenberg AFB and the F-1 engine powered the Saturn Apollo vehicle that took men to the moon. When the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) contract was awarded to Rocketdyne, Phil was immediately assigned to that program and he worked with the SSME until his retirement in 1988.In 1957 Phil met Grace Hamblin on a blind date. It was love-at-first-sight and 10 weeks later they were married. It was a life-long love affair that lasted 61 years. They moved frequently following Phil's job assignments to various cities in California. While in Lompoc their daughter Wendy Kay Hampton was born in 1961. In 1974 he was assigned to Huntsville, AL as Resident Engineering & Simulation Lab Manager, responsible for SSME software testing and development. In 1984 Phil and Grace moved to Merritt Island, FL, where Phil was SSME Engineering Manager at Kennedy Space Center overseeing Shuttle launches. He finished his career there, retiring in 1988. In 2002, they moved to Orlando to be closer to Wendy and her family. A recipient of many honors and awards, Phil was most proud of his Silver Knight of Management and his Silver Snoopy Award from the Shuttle Astronauts. During the 1960's Phil's main hobbies were camping and competitive pistol shooting, until he tried SCUBA diving in 1967. He logged a total of over 2950 dives. He was also an avid underwater photographer and enjoyed sharing his experience and expertise with others. He was a member of both the KSC Barracudas the Martin Dive Clubs. In 2007 Phil was elected to the Homeowner's Association at The Preserve of Rio Pinar. In this capacity he worked to keep the neighborhood functioning smoothly and beautifully maintained. He cared deeply about the service he provided and the many friendships he developed.Phil is survived by his wife of 61 years, Grace, his daughter Wendy Hampton McCleskey, his son-in-law Mike, his grandson Torey (New York, NY), and his brother Robert Hampton (Sacramento, CA). A Celebration of Phil's life will be held Sunday, 11/11, at the First Unitarian Church of Orlando, 1901 E. Robinson Street, Orlando, at 3:00 PM. To honor Phil's love of the ocean, it would be appropriate to wear a fish shirt or tropical print. A reception will follow.In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Cancer Society or the Ocean/Wildlife charity of your choice.
To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by Orlando Sentinel on Nov. 7, 2018.
Celebration of Life
First Unitarian Church of Orlando
1901 E. Robinson Street, Orlando, Florida
Funeral services provided by:
Ammen Family Cremation & Funeral Care
Add a Message
16 Entries
I am so saddened by the news of Phil's death. I can't remember exactly when we met diving, but it was just before Grace spread her wings as a diver to join Phil in his underwater adventures! We'v been in touch since then every Christmas.
I'm sending my sincere condolences to Grace and his family.
Cheryl Kellogg
December 19, 2018
Grace, Wendy, Mike and Torey, thinking of you at this time of loss. Phil was an amazing man and should leave you with wonderful memories.
Nick and Karyl Lawlor
November 21, 2018
Grace, Wendy, Mike, and Torey, I'm very sorry for your loss. Phil will be missed by all whose lives he touched. I have many memories of benefiting from his sage and experienced advice and friendship.
Bill Paskerty
November 12, 2018
Dear Wendy, Grace, Mike and Torey, we send our deepest condolences. We will miss seeing Phil at the LIFE programs. We made a donation to the cancer society. God bless.
- Terri and Stan
Stan and Terri Chin
November 12, 2018
I will truly miss seeing Phil around the neighborhood and stopping to chat and get a hug. Phil was a gem and he and Grace are so sweet. You couldn't ask for better neighbors and friends.
Tom and I have made a donation in Phil's memory to Operation Smile (a charity I support with heartfelt love).
With sincerest sympathy,
Shelly Ott and Tom Wagner
Shelly Ott
November 11, 2018
Wendy, Mike, Tory and of course Grace we give our love to all of you. It is very difficult to lose someone that is such a tremendous force of life. Knowing Phil for just the flash of light that we did he had a major impact on both of Devin and Blakes lives. I adore the family dynamics of the five of you-so loving,caring and open. The most impressive part is that each one of you hold your arms wide open for so many people to join your family unit without any reserve. We love you each individually and as a whole. The Buffington's, Christine, Ed, Blake and Devin
Christine Buffington
November 11, 2018
Our deepest sympathies to Grace and the entire McCleskey family on his passing. Phil was a genuine spirit filled man who enjoyed life to its fullest. We will grieve his loss, but will rejoice in the knowledge that his memory will remain.
Helen and Cindy
November 8, 2018
We are so, so sorry to hear that Phil passed. Prayers to his family. I will miss diving with him. RIP Phil.
Sandra Hammond
November 8, 2018
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
November 7, 2018
On behalf of all of Phil's dive buddies in the KSC Barracudas, we send out love and deepest sympathies to Grace, Wendy, Mike, and Torey. Our hearts break with yours.
William Little
November 7, 2018
So sorry to hear this. Phil was a wonderful man and we are proud to have known him. Our love to Grace and to all the McCleskeys.
Pat & Dave
November 7, 2018
We know there are no words that will makes this any easier for you as you transition to a physical life without Phil. Please know that we are praying for you with lots of love and concern and are ready and willing to help you get through this in any way that we possibly can. We are so thankful to have known Phil as our lives were surely enriched by our paths crossing. He was an awesome and outstanding man!
Glenn and Donna Cox
November 7, 2018
Sincere condolences to you and your family. May you all take comfort in the wonderful memories you have accumulated over the years.
November 7, 2018
Please accept my deepest and heartfelt condolences at this time of your loss. May the God who "binds up the brokenhearted" and "comforts all who mourn" sustain your family during this difficult time. Isaiah 61:1, 2
November 7, 2018
Our deepest sympathies to the family. We pray in your behalf, and look forward to the day when we will welcome our dear loved ones back to a Paradise earth. Ps 37:29
November 6, 2018
May the god of all comfort and peace give the family peace and strength to endure Psalm 121:1-3
November 6, 2018