AeroPAC’s founder, William D. Lewis

One of the earliest AEROPAC members died during ARLISS / XPRS 2016

Bill’s activities in AEROPAC seem to pre-date all of our current active members. Bill was clearly a central figure early on and our earliest AEROPAC newsletters, January and April of 1992, seem to be almost exclusively written by Bill. Interesting reading these early newsletters.

One can get a real feel for the history of the club and the foundations that were laid that helped make AEROPAC a great rocketry club. For the January, 1992 newsletter Bill wrote “Fun in the Sun” covering the July, 1991 “Black Rock III” launch. Apparently, this was the last launch before TRIPOLI required that only certified motors be used.

The official “EX” designation must have come later. “It was two days of nearperfect-weather rocketry: warm and sunny with clear blue skies.” 118 flights were made at Black Rock III.

Also in the January 1992 newsletter was Bill’s article “AERONAUT 2— Snow and Cold Weather Rocketry” where snow flurries and a buried to the axles porta-pottie trailer (took the 3 mile entrance) did not deter AEROPACer’s from launching.

Apparently Bill was still active in 1993 but by the time of our next archived newsletter in 1996 he seems gone from the scene.According to his family he continued to educate young people in rocketry and supported STEM activities.

He was devoted to his family, cared deeply for his community, and was proud to be a Vietnam Veteran and awarded the Purple Heart for his distinguished service.  William grew up in Niles, Calif., and earned a bachelor's in Industrial Design from San Jose State University after his service in the army. He retired after working for 43 years in Silicon Valley, and continued teaching and researching STEM fields of study. He is survived by his beloved wife of 49 years, Veronica G. Lewis; children Dean, Jonathan, Cindy, and Kevin; and grandchildren Austin, Jaren, Asher, and Emmet Lewis. As well as siblings Robert Lewis, Reg Lewis, Jeanette Rebello, Jeannine Abbott, and Franklin Lewis.

You can read Bill’s full obituary from the San Jose Mercury News and view a video made by his family by following the links from the posting on the AEROPAC Facebook page.

So long Bill! We owe a lot to you and our other founding members!


San Jose Mercury News Obituary