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Theodrick Bland Norris

Theodrick Bland Norris of Blacksburg, VA passed away February 22, 2013 at
85 years of age. He was a Navy veteran of WWII serving in the Western
Pacific and was an engineering graduate of the University of Virginia
of 1950. He was employed by the US Navy Department Bureau of Aeronautics
and participated in the development of the steam Catapult, Landing
required for operation of new Navy jet aircraft aboard the Forestall
Aircraft Carriers.
In 1958 he joined the Navy Special Projects Office, developing the
Fleet Ballistic Missile. In 1959 he joined the newly formed NASA as
Program Manager of the Thor Delta unmanned Space Launch Vehicle. During
his career he and contributed to the launch of many early Science &
Applications Satellites including Telstar, Tiros and Syncom.
He became program Manager for the Centaur launch vehicle and was a
principal contributor in the launch of the Surveyor Series (first
spacecraft to soft land on the moon); the Mariner Mars (First spacecraft
orbit another planet); the Pioneer C (first spacecraft to the planet
Jupiter and beyond); and the Mariner Mercury (first spacecraft to the
planet Mercury).
In 1979 he retired from NASA and was employed by Perkin Elmer
as the Director of Advanced Planning. He was commissioned a “Pathfinder
the Celestial Seas” for his contributions to the exploration of the solar
system and served as President of the National Space Club in 1986-1987.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Kathleen Whitson of
Erwin, Tennessee; three daughters, Patricia Bland Morse (Terry) of
Blacksburg, Va., Priscilla Anne Masters (Eric) of Great Falls, Va., and
Mary Armistead Norris (Dan) of Blacksburg, Va. and seven beloved
Visitation will be held at Hill and Wood Funeral Home in Charlottesville
on Saturday, April 13 starting at 9:30 am., followed by a memorial
at Christ Episcopal Church at 11:00 and graveside service at Monticello
Memorial Gardens.
In lieu of flowers the family is requesting donations be made to Good
Samaritan Hospice in Christiansburg, Va., or to your local hospice. We
have also set up a Memorial Fund at UVA for the College of Engineering.
Donations can be sent to:
UVA Alumni Association
PO Box 400314
Charlottesville, VA 22904 (Please note that the donation is for the
Norris Memorial Fund)