Friday, March 23, 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

Winter Parade

Ann Pendleton, Patsy Hines, Marjorie Trotter, and John Black as Santa.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sunday, March 04, 2007

In Memory of Marjorie Trotter (1939-2007)

Born March 4, 1939 as Marjorie Anne Trotter to Edward and Marjorie Trotter of Tehuacana, Texas and the oldest of four children, Marjorie learned the importance of family from an early age. Some of her fondest childhood memories were of the time she spent with her siblings inventing games to play around the home place. She earned her spot as the valedictorian of her Mexia High School class in 1957, and married her high school sweetheart, Don Green the same year. During high school, she was a cheerleader, glee club member, band member and scholar. Before finishing her bachelors degree at Sam Houston State University, she delivered the couple’s first son, Don Edd in 1958. The family then moved to College Station, where Marjorie quickly finished a masters degree in English as one of the first Maggies at Texas A&M University…a title she was proud to wear. During this time, Jon was born, adding to the family. Don’s career led the family to San Marcos where Marjorie became a stay at home mom to now three children, once daughter Angela was born. She devoted her time to her children unselfishly, participating in numerous school and social functions for them. In addition to the many children’s activities, Marjorie showed a strong civic spirit and drive to help others. She was a member of Beta Sigma Phi, the Junior Service League, the Heritage Society, the Breckenridge Club, University Women, United Methodist Women, the First United Methodist Church of San Marcos, the Chilympiad committees, and served in many other local organizations. Wherever someone needed a person they could count on, Marjorie answered the call. Early in the 1980s, Marjorie partnered with two friends to open Flowerland, Inc. Their tireless efforts built a thriving floral business in the community and brought happiness to so many. Through the flower shop, Marjorie comforted people through sorrowful times and joined in their celebrations of life. It was this compassion that she held for others that made her unique. After a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, Marjorie left our world for a better place. No doubt she is in the Lord’s house, reading a book, baking cookies for someone, or finding a way to lend a hand to make someone’s burden that much lighter. She was a shining beacon of caring, that will be missed by the many whose hearts she has touched. While the world may be a dimmer place without her shining disposition, it is a better place because she was in it and in our lives. Marjorie is survived by her father, Edward Trotter; husband, Don Green; sons and daughters-in-law Don Edd & Angie Green, and Jon & Kellie Green; daughter and son-in-law Scott & Angela Clendenin; daughter-in-law Debra Brown; grandson and granddaughter-in-law William & Denise Green; grandsons Chance Green & John Clendenin; granddaughters Erin Green, Lauren Green, Meghan Green, Jessi Green, Mallori Green, and Bryce Clendenin; one great grandson, William Andrew Green; two brothers and sisters-in-law, Ken & Sandy Trotter, James & Martha Trotter; a sister and brother-in-law, Maurice “Bubba” & Judy Fife; brother-in-law & sister-in-law Michael & Patsy Green, and numerous other nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews. She loved us all, and after the difficult time she struggled with her illness, we wish her everlasting peace in the hands of the Lord. A graveside service at Tehuacana Cemetery in Tehuacana, TX is planned for 2 pm Tuesday, March 6 with arrangements coordinated through Blair-Stubbs Funeral Home, Mexia, Texas. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: the Gibbs Memorial Library, 305 E. Rusk, Mexia, TX 76667 or the academic sweater program at Mexia High School, 1120 N. Ross, Mexia, TX 76667.

Dr. Brown's House

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Thursday, March 01, 2007

David Winningham

David Winningham, the Principal Investigator Discovery's ASPERA-3 sensors, was born and raised in Texas and has lived there all his life. But he is very comfortable working in collaboration with scientists at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics who are leading the development of ASPERA-3 and with their other European partners. In fact, these international connections have made his 30 year career in space physics particularly enjoyable and culturally enriching. He's made the most of the opportunities presented to him and gotten paid to have fun. David grew up in the small town of Mexia, Texas, in the 1940’s. He spent much of his childhood on his grandparents’ cotton farm while his parents went to work in the war industries.

Sports held no interest for him, but reading did. He loved mysteries and science fiction and would read several hundred books over the summer, encouraged by the library's contests to keep students engaged. In those pre-television days the only other entertainment was listening to Buck Rogers on the windmill powered radio and watching Rocket Man at the movies on Saturday. “As an only child living with your grandparents and no other kids nearby, I had to be creative to keep myself amused,” he remembers. He also spent a lot-of time picking cotton. Reading introduced him to the world outside Texas.
David always excelled in math, science and physics but his parents knew they couldn't afford to send him away to college. Looking ahead, his father moved the family to Bryan/College Station, TX, where Texas A & M University is located, when David was 13. That year David started delivering newspapers and earned enough over the next 5 years that he saved $3000, enough to pay for his undergraduate college tuition. ”My parents purposely made it so I was able go to college,” David says, “and not just any college but one of two places where engineering and science was big in Texas at that time.

David received his B.S. in physics in 1963, then got full internships and fellowships that covered his Masters and PhD tuition. He did his PhD thesis at the new Southwest Center for Advanced Studies in Dallas from 1966-1970, working under a Canadian research professor on a Canadian-American international research satellite called ISIS. He stayed on as a research faculty member until 1980 when he joined Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) in San Antonio and has been there ever since. As an Institute Scientist, he's been a principal or co-investigator on a number of NASA and foreign missions. His career has been spent building instruments and then analyzing data that explore the Sun-Earth connections.

How did he get involved with the Swedish ASPERA instrument? “At the graduate school level I learned to enjoy international cooperation and meeting different people. We were involved with tile Swedes on other projects, mainly sounding rocket projects. Through those interactions they invited us to participate in the ASPERA instrument on Mars Express. The first two ASPERAS were strictly Russian and Swedish. By the time this opportunity came around, the Russian connection had gone away with the collapse of the Soviet Union so the Swedes had to look for ether partners with significant resources. We were invited to participate and subsequently proposed to the Discovery Program to gain support to do that.”

SWRI built two of ASPERA's sensors with a team of 15 people at its peak. What was communication like with so many foreign partners working on the instrument? David says, “It only works well if you've had the relationship that we had that led to us to being chosen. The Europeans operate much differently than in the US in terms of how things are managed. They depend much more on collegial relationships which have been established over time where it's expected that each partner does exactly what they say they're going to do. The checks and balances are more on a handshake level than the level of an agency like NASA. It doesn't work. well if you haven't established a long term relationship where you know how to talk with one another, know all the lingo, and know the minimum amount of things that need to be discussed.”

David stresses that the ability to run a project like this successfully is almost directly proportional to having established a long term personal and professional relationship which reduces the necessity of a lot of formal checks and balances. European space management culture is very different than the American norm. Trust among the key players is essential.

For David, the most scientifically interesting part of Mars Express is the challenge of moving out to a sister planet and using those skills you've developed over the years at Mars. “It is a refreshing change,” he says, “and a new challenge where old skills can be easily used and applied. The collegial cultural enlightenment becomes probably the best part. The science is gravy on top of that.”

David's advice for young scientists and engineers: “space is a very interesting thing to spend your life at because of the challenges it presents but never get so buried that you can't stop and smell the roses. There are so many things to life other than just strictly science. Enjoy those other things and appreciate them equally.” David has made the most of his career opportunities, which have sent him to Canada, Russia, Peru, all the Scandinavian countries, Germany, France, England, Italy and Switzerland. “That's what makes life interesting,” he believes. “Just engineering can be as boring as digging ditches if it doesn't have any redeeming social value. The cultural aspects, particularly in these international projects, are what make it special.”
--From Discovery Dispatch, a Quarterly Newsletter of the NASA Discovery Program