Dr. William Herbert Michael, Jr., Ph.D

Dr. William H. Michael, Jr., Ph.D., 95, of Newport News, passed away peacefully on January 15, 2022, at Warwick Forest Retirement Community after several years of declining health. He had an exceptionally long, happy and productive life. Bill was predeceased by his wife of 68 years, Marjorie Boswick Michael, in 2021. He was also predeceased by his parents, William H. and Alice Welborne Michael; sister, Ann M. Sturgeon; brother-in-law, Dr. Howard Sturgeon; and sister-in-law, Martha (Marty) Michael.

Bill graduated from Princeton University in 1948 with a B.S. degree in Aeronautical Engineering. This led to a long and decorated career with NASA and the National Academy of Sciences. As a lifelong learner, Dr. Michael also earned a Master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering from UVA, a Master’s in Physics from William and Mary, and his Ph.D. in Physics from Princeton University.

As a “Rocket Scientist” he was instrumental in the Lunar Orbiter Project which mapped sites on the moon for the future Apollo missions. Another career highlight was successfully leading the communications team for the Viking Mission to Mars that searched for signs of life and sent back images from the Red Planet.

Marjorie and Bill had lots of wonderful travels in the United States, Europe and beyond and they enjoyed their home of many years on the James River and their beach cottage at Sandbridge.

Dr. Michael was a longtime member of James River Country Club where he enjoyed playing tennis and golf, the Rotary Club, and was a Deacon at Hidenwood Presbyterian Church.

He is survived by his daughters, Caroline M. Rawls (John Perry) of Virginia Beach and Cynthia M. Andrews (Richard) of Wilmington, NC; grandsons, Harvey Pretlow Rawls III, Guy Edward Rawls, Dickson Butler Bridger Jr, Michael Ward Bridger; granddaughter, Julia Caroline Andrews; sister, Alice Jane Crick (Phil); brothers, George Wythe Michael and Robert Welborne Michael (Pam); and 18 nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 29, 2022 at Peninsula Funeral Home, 11144 Warwick Blvd., Newport News. The CDC highly recommends masks for inside gatherings.

Memorial donations may be made to Hidenwood Presbyterian Church or to a charity of your choice.

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