Astronaut Deke Slayton, a
member of the Original Seven, passed away on June 13th,
1993. He died from complications due to a brain tumor. On
June 13th of 1993 there was
a memorial service held for Slayton at the NASA Johnson Space
Center. The service was in the Teague Auditorium in Building 2 at
JSC and it started at 1:00 PM. The service was open to the
of my space enthusiast friends, my
stepson Toby and I drove to Houston
for the service.We left
home at for our 4
hour trek.Beside Toby and me, our party
included Chris Seaman, Mark Shelton, and Andy Sheppard. We wanted to
respects to a man who had such a large role in our early space
was not quite sure what to expect at this
service.I assumed it would be a somber
event like most funerals or wakes are.Instead
it was more of a celebration of life.
one week before Slayton passed away he
gave instructions about the service to his wife Bobbi.He told her that he did not want people to
get sad about his death at the service.Based
on those instructions, the service turned out
to be a collection
of stories and anecdotes about the good old days.
The people who spoke at the service were
astronauts Paul Weitz (Deputy Director of JSC), Alan Shepard, Wally
John Glenn, Cosmonaut Alexi Leonov, Comedian Bill Dana, Pilot David
old airplane racing buddy of Deke's), J. R. Thompson (a NASA
Dan Goldin (NASA chief administrator) and David Hannah, Jr. (the major
the speakers came out on the stage, I
noticed that Wally Schirra had on a bright blue blazer and snow white
shoes.When I say his clothing was
bright, I was looking for the extension cord that plugged his jacket
electrical outlet.I was really
questioning Wally's taste in clothing.
got up to speak and he said that Al
Shepard had told them that they shouldn't wear any dark somber colors.
said "It looks like I've won this contest!"That
was kind of the tone for the whole event.
stories told very interesting.I
wish I had brought a tape recorder so that
I could have documented them. The service was supposed to have been
on NASA TV.Whether or not it was I do
not know.Perhaps a copy of that
broadcast exists somewhere that does document the stories.
service, I was able to speak with
Linda Godwin as she was exiting the auditorium.
Linda remembered me from the school visit that we sponsored with
her. It made me feel really good to be remembered . We had
a very nice
There was one thing that bothered me after the service. I saw
approach Buzz Aldrin and ask him to sign their memorial program.
was not the time not place for this. Their argument was that
the only opportunity that they had to meet him. Well if that was
then a handshake and the memory should have been enough.
We left Houston at about in the afternoon for our return
home. The drive took us nearly 5 hours. The return was made
more difficult by heavy