Doug O'Handley

Doug O'Handley, Indomitable​ Influence for Hundreds of Space Professionals, Passes

"Douglas Alexander O'Handley, Ph.D., died peacefully at home in Morgan Hill, California July 28, 2016, at the age of 79. ... In the mid-1990s, Doug created and taught a multi-disciplinary undergraduate course in astrobiology at Santa Clara University. He - and the course - were wildly popular. From this course and the program initiated by Jerry Soffen at NASA Goddard, the seeds were planted for the NASA Ames Astrobiology Academy - a summer leadership development program committed to excellence that has operated for nearly 20 years (later the Space Exploration Academy). The Academy catalyzed and inspired the lives of more than 240 students, many of whom are now well-established in scientific disciplines and careers around the country, ranging from NASA flight surgeons and principal investigators on multiple missions, to leaders inspiring others with their careers in academia, government and industry. Doug and Christy drew enormous pleasure from hosting the students that each year brought to their home on evenings, weekends and holidays - whether skiing with astronauts at Squaw Valley, boating on Lake Tahoe or backyard BBQs. The Academy students quickly became a part of Doug's family, always welcome at any time. Doug was present for many life events of his former students, including officiating three weddings and introducing more than a dozen couples who are now married."

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"We invite you to join us at St. Catherine of Alexandria Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, California, on Saturday, August 20, at 2 p.m. for a mass in honor of Doug and a reception to follow to enjoy the many wonderful memories and accomplishments."

Keith's note: Doug was doing things 20 years ago that no one else at NASA was doing - before there was social media, STEM, NASA socials, etc. While lots of "education" people talk about education and put out powerpoint slides, Doug rolled up his sleeves and just made things happen. More than once Doug would invite me to give his students a lecture on "How To Break the Rules at NASA". He wanted them to know how the place really worked. His efforts led directly to the inspiration of a large number of very fine young people - many of whom work in the NASA family. Doug and his wife took each class of students into his home as if they were family. There are hundreds of students whose careers went into overdrive as a direct result of Doug O'Handley and the NASA Academy. Each one of them has a story to tell - each story points to the enduring power of NASA as a motivator - with Doug holding a hand while also holding a big magnifying glass and bull horn to accentuate the effect. One only has to look at Doug's Facebook page to see the responses from students who have learned of his passing. Doug leaves behind a living, breathing legacy that will endure and expand for decades - one that will expand off this planet.
Ad Astra Doug.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on August 3, 2016 9:51 AM.

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