Walter Ray Hook, 81, former Langley Research Center aerospace engineer, director of space

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Walter Ray Hook
Walter Ray Hook

Beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend, Walter Ray Hook, of Yorktown, died suddenly on Sunday, May 31, 2015, at the age of 81.

Ray graduated from North Carolina State University in 1955, with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, with an aeronautics option. He began his career at Langley Research Center in Hampton in 1955 as an aeronautical research intern. After serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1955 to 1958, he returned to Langley as an aerospace engineer where he worked for the next 36 years, culminating his career as the director of space.

Ray was central to many of Langley’s space research efforts, including planetary entry, development of large manned and unmanned spacecraft, systems analysis software, space station freedom, large space antenna research and Langley’s atmospheric sciences programs. He was also integral to the implementation of Sky Lab, America’s first space station launched in 1973.

In 1989 he was presented a Presidential Rank Award at a special ceremony in Washington; he received the rank of meritorious executive in the senior executive service for his outstanding contributions to the management of NASA programs. He was a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Ray was a member of the First United Church of Christ in Hampton for nearly 60 years. He loved his church and was actively involved serving in many capacities, including church treasurer and deacon. He also enjoyed scuba diving, oyster gardening as a member of the Tidewater Oyster Growers Association and “tinkering” with all manner of mechanical and electrical devices.

Ray, a devoted family man, was born in Elon College, North Carolina, son of the late Marshall Ward Hook and Minnie Laura Edge Hook.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 56 years, Ernestine Folk Hook; sons and daughter, Eugene Wayne Hook and his wife, Ellen Smith Hook, of Virginia Beach, John Lee Hook and his wife, Bobbie Jo Hillman, of Virginia Beach, Russell Alan Hook, of Yorktown and Janet Lynn Hook and her husband, Dr. Paul T. Golumbek, of St. Louis; his son-in-law, Philip McAllister Edwards; 10 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

His family was the center of his life.

Ray was preceded in death by his daughter, Laura-Marie Hook Edwards and his brothers, Gerald E. Hook and Harvey O. Hook.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 13, 2015, at First United Church of Christ, 1017 Todds Lane, Hampton.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the First United Church of Christ in Hampton.

Please leave online condolences for the family at Berceuse Funeral and Cremation.

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