|Dr. Donald W. Richardson, AE '51
March 17, 1927- October 24, 2019
The Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering this week learned that we have lost one of our staunchest supporters, Dr. Donald W. Richardson, AE '51.
The longtime chair of the Aerospace Engineering School Advisory Council (AESAC) passed away quietly on October 24, surrounded by loved ones, including his wife and business partner, Kathleen Watkins-Richardson. He was pre-deceased by his first wife, Jane, in 2011.
A World War II Army veteran and a Navy Reserve Captain, Don earned his undergraduate degree at the Daniel Guggenheim School on his way to building a career that would transform the aeronautical and aerospace industry through research and innovation in human factors, aircraft design, and air traffic control. In addition to being a licensed commercial pilot with instrument, multi-engine, and seaplane ratings, he held three patents for aircraft cockpit display systems. He served as a research pilot for the FAA, concentrating on air traffic control operational systems, and served for a time as president of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the seminal professional organization of the aerospace field. He was a retired vice president of SAIC, where he was responsible for all corporate civil aviation activities, and he was one of only a handful of Americans to be named an Honorary Fellow of England's Royal Aeronautical Society. In recent years, Don and his wife, Kathleen, operated Donrich Research, Inc., a Florida-based firm that handles technical aerospace issues, business strategy, and conflict resolution.
"It would be impossible to acknowledge all of the ways that Don contributed to the Daniel Guggenheim School, to the discipline, and to the industry," said William R. T. Oakes Professor and School Chair Mark F. Costello. "His vision and ambition pushed his alma mater to embrace innovation over convention. In so doing, he made us a better institution."
In lieu of flowers, the Richardson family has requested that those wishing to remember Don consider contributing to the Jane J. Richardson Scholarship Endowment, a fund that Don set up to benefit women studying at the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering. Checks should be made payable to Georgia Tech Foundation (with a note identifying this scholarship effort in the memo section) and sent to the Georgia Tech Foundation, 760 Spring Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30308.
A funeral service on Thursday, October 31, 2019 at 1 p.m. at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 211 Trinity Place, West Palm Beach, FL.