John William Goslee
On Sunday, March 28, 2021, John William Goslee died peacefully at his home in Newport News. Bill, as he was known to friends and family, was born on April 10, 1925, in Portsmouth, Virginia, but grew up in Wilmington, Delaware with his brother Bob, who precedes him in death.
In 1949, Bill graduated from Virginia Tech, majoring in aeronautical engineering — a continuation of a love of aviation that began at the age of 5. Bill earned his pilot’s license in 1982, and was an inveterate tinkerer, building dune buggies, customizing bicycles of neighborhood children, and repairing and painting friends’ cars, free of charge. He was an avid reader and kept up with aviation news his whole life.
In 1950, Bill started working for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, the precursor of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration), leaving in 1953 to work for several private companies in the aeronautical field before returning to the newly formed space agency NASA in 1961. He was a veteran of World War II, having served with the Combat Engineers of the Third Army in the European theater. Bill received a Masters in Business Administration from the College of William & Mary in 1974.
While at NASA, Bill worked on the Scout Project; the Lunar Landing Facility; the Lunar Orbiter Project; and the Viking Project to Mars, earning an inventor credit on several patents granted to the agency. Bill retired from NASA in 1990 after 34 years of service.
In 1953, Bill married Virginia Claire Parker, who survives him. They enjoyed travel after retirement. He is also survived by his three children and their families: his son Jack, his wife Cathy, and their son Cody; his daughter Ann; and his daughter Pat, her husband Michael O’Sullivan, and their son Simon. Over the last 13 years of his life, nurse Beverly Cross helped Bill to navigate the end of his journey, providing much loving care and laughter.
If desired, contributions may be made in Bill’s name to the American Cancer Society at cancer.org or for Tree Equity at americanforests.org.
Arrangements are under the care of Peninsula Funeral Home, 11144 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA 23601.