Robert Fay Alsworth Sr.
May 27, 1930 - Sep 21, 2019
Robert Fay Alsworth left this earthly life 21 September 2019 from the arms of his daughter at UC Davis Med Center. He was a longtime resident of Rancho Cordova and an active 89 year old in good health until complications from a medical procedure caused heart shock and failure a short time later.
Bob was born 27 May 1930 to Genevieve Marie Emery and Leslie Fay Alsworth in Fulton, NY. His father left the family during the Great Depression when Bob and his sisters were attending Fulton Elementary. At 13 Bob lived and worked with Grandma and Grandpa Emery on their farm in Mexico, NY, then as a farm hand from 14 to 18 for the Spicer, Clohosey and Valley families. During this time he also attended high school at Mexico Academy. Jim Valley was always a friend and father figure to Bob.
Nov ’48 Bob enlisted in the U.S. Army and attended leadership training at FT Dix, NJ soon making rank of Sgt. First Class. He served as a battalion physical training instructor at FT Meyer, VA and his permanent and most significant duty assignment was to Company F, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment “The Old Guard” at FT Lesley J. McNair, Washington D.C. In Dec ’50 while in D.C. he met and married his first wife Shirley Mae Oliphant, also enlisted in the U.S. Army and a veteran of the Korean War. Bob was studying to become a commissioned officer when he got orders to report to Camp Stoneman, CA to ship out to Korea in May ’52. His men boarded the ship on schedule but he and Sgt. Johnson were still in limbo weeks later. Bob marched into the Red Cross to suggest they be shipped out or sent back. The next day they had orders to return home. He finished his service at Camp Kilmer, NJ and was honorably discharged Aug ’52.
Bob received a BS in Mechanical Engineering Jun ’58 Univ. of Delaware, Tau Beta Pi. Early employment includes Body Finisher at General Motors BOP Assembly Plant Wilmington, DE; Jr. Engineer at E.I. Dupont de Nemours, Wilmington, DE; Asst. Engineer Allis Chalmers, Milwaukee, WI.
Dec ’61 recruiters from Aerojet General Corp. Rancho Cordova (Aerojet Rocketdyne) offered him an excellent opportunity, so he packed up his young family and headed to California. He enjoyed recounting stories of the road trip in his black 1960 Chevy Impala with red interior, son Robert Jr. wearing his baseball cap and mitt night and day, daughter Barbara Jean in diapers with her two pet box turtles in the car…memories to last a lifetime.
Bob started Aerojet Jan ’62 as Development Engineer on what would be his life’s work, the Titan Program. His diligence was soon rewarded with a promotion to Engineering Supervisor and he devoted the rest of his career to Aerojet. His greatest professional accomplishment was Mission Success Manager of the Titan Team. In 2005 an aerospace publication quoted him as saying, “I’m most proud that we supported 218 space launch vehicles and none of those flights had a mission lost because of an engine failure. That’s a tremendous achievement when there are so many places where mistakes can occur.” In 2015 Bob left Aerojet at age 85, with 53 years of dedication to the space industry.
Bob’s first marriage lasted 25 years. He married Mary Dean Carter Wilson in 1975 and they blended their lives and families together for 37 years.
To his last day Bob’s mind was brilliant. He was happiest working problems with people and had an innate ability to ask questions that triggered answers. A life well lived in service and generosity, Bob was a constant in the lives of family, friends and colleagues. Local boy made good, yet true to his roots relishing the simple things – walks in nature, Bible reading, playing checkers, classical and gospel music, good meals, time with loved ones. A lifetime member of Tau Beta Pi, great whistler, singer, dancer, gardener, hugger, car man, steady Eddie friend to all including animals.
Preceded in death by his wife Mary Dean Alsworth, parents Leslie Fay and Genevieve Marie Alsworth, sisters Esther Lorene Willey, Dora May Karboski, Marceline Marie Smith; stepson James Harvey Wilson; former wife and mother of his children Shirley Mae Oliphant Alsworth. He is survived by his son Robert Fay Alsworth, Jr., daughter and son-in-law Barbara Jean Alsworth Fabian and Shawn Fabian; siblings Billy Alsworth, Jimmy Alsworth, John Gates, Lona Statt and Amy Felt; sister-in-law Jean Carter; stepdaughter-in-law Barbara Jean Wilson, step-grandchildren Daniel James Wilson and Barbara Dean Wilson; and many loving nieces, nephews and friends with gratitude to Bea Laclair his friend of 85 years.
A celebration of Bob’s life is being planned for family and friends on what would have been his 90th birthday, 27 May 2020. Our beautiful and beloved dad, friend, rock, role model, mentor, hero, your love and guidance is sorely missed, your infectious laugh and smile will forever live in our hearts, and we will sing God’s praises till we meet again. Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. Psalm 47:6
Memorial donations may be made to the Salvation Army. Bob and his sisters never forgot that they made Christmas for them in their childhood years.