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Roland Thayer Sheets, 77, passed away peacefully at home on Friday, May 24, 2016.
He was born in Charleston, W.Va., on April 18, 1939, and graduated from Stonewall Jackson High School. He received the first full baseball scholarship from the University of Virginia and graduated in 1961 with a B.A. degree. He had a stint with the Major League Baseball Pittsburg Pirates, but it was cut short due to an injury.
He began employment for NASA Langley Research in 1963. He earned an M.S. degree from George Washington University in 1966. In addition to his NASA work, he taught graduate MBA programs for seven years. In 1993, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Foundation’s Technology Hall of Fame for helping create a cool suit for multiple sclerosis patients.
He received other notable awards, including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the Award of Achievement at the world’s largest airshow in Oshkosh, Wis., for his efforts to revitalize general aviation. He served as manager of the Small Business Innovative Research Program from 1983 until his retirement from NASA in 2004 after 41 years of service. He also coached in the York County Little League and American Legion Baseball, with the highlight of his All-Star teams winning back-to back-District 7 Little League Championships, the first ever by York County. He never forgot “his kids.”
He was preceded in death by his parents, Roland Edward and Chloe Elizabeth Quick Sheets; brother, Robert Edward Sheets; and grandson, Mason Connor Sheets.
He is survived by his wife, Betty; sons, Thayer Jr., and his wife, Charlene, and Derek, and his wife, Ethelind (Pinky); grandsons, Emerson Thayer Sheets and Jake Tyler Sheets; and granddaughter, Morgan Elizabeth Sheets.
Family and friends gathered at Amory Funeral Home on Thursday, May 26, for a private funeral.
Memorial donations may be made to the York County Little League, P.O. Box 1730, Yorktown, VA 23692.
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