William Martin Conlon 1921-2009

William Martin (Bill) Conlon died on June 2, 2009 at Stanford University Hospital in Palo Alto, California, shortly after celebrating his 57th wedding anniversary.  Bill left behind his wife Dorothy (Figueroa) Conlon and son William Jr. (Judith Schwartz) of Palo Alto, son Thomas (Paula D’Entremont) of Millville, MA, and daughter Barbara (David Resch) of Colorado Springs, CO.

Bill was raised in Whitman, Massachusetts by his father and an extended family of grandparents, aunts and uncles after losing both his mother and step-mother by age 9.

After graduating from Whitman High School in 1941, he entered Northeastern University to study Electrical Engineering. In 1942 he went to work at the Fore River shipyard, doing Electrical layout on 3 Essex-class aircraft carriers, and in 1943 was drafted into the Army Signal Corps, serving in the Philippines.

After the war, he completed his degree at Northeastern and went to work for Western Union, where he installed one of the first fax machines in the U.S. Capitol.  He met his wife Dorothy on a blind date, and the attraction was mutual.  They married on May 31, 1952 and settled in Bethpage, New York.

Most of his career was in aerospace engineering on Long Island working for Bendix, Sperry Gyroscope, Servomechanisms, ARMA, and then joined Grumman to work on the Lunar Module.  The family moved to Houston for three years while he was Chief of Test Engineering for the Lunar Excursion Module.  As Apollo 11 was launched in 1969, Bill returned to Bethpage, arriving as the Eagle landed on the moon.  He continued at Grumman on the F-111B, EA-6B and F-14 programs, finally retiring from Grumman in 1988.

He thoroughly enjoyed his retirement, traveling to see his children and grandchildren, learning about computers growing hot peppers, getting together with his fellow ROMEOs, and telling stories about his childhood and war years.  He was a kind and generous man and is missed very much.

2 thoughts on “William Martin Conlon 1921-2009

  1. Kenneth Conlon

    I am doing a fmily tree and was wondering if there is any relationship here.My kin came fron County Armah Ireland in the 1840’s They came to Canada but understand there was kin in the U.S.
    looking forward to here from you. Kenneth Conlon

  2. Alexander Magoun

    Hello, for an article on facsimile by Prof. Jonathan Coopersmith to be published on our website and in Proceedings of the IEEE, we would like to use the photo of the woman with the Western Union prototype Desk-Fax: http://william_martin.conlon.org/wp-content/uploads/DeskFax-Engineering-Prototype.jpg. Additional details about Mr. Conlon’s work on it, the date, location, etc., would improve the caption. We would of course offer a credit, “Courtesy. . . ” as you wish.


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