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Frederick I. Ordway III – Obituary

By  | July 1, 2014 | Filed under: Laughlin Service Funeral Home, Obituaries

Frederick I. Ordway III, 87, of Huntsville, passed away Tuesday. He was predeceased by his wife, Maria Victoria Ordway.

Born in New York City and raised in Maine, Fred Ordway was educated in geosciences at Harvard University and did graduate work at the Sorbonne and other institutions abroad. Among his first positions out of school was with a mining company and later became an early employee of Reaction Motors, Inc. (RMI) of New Jersey, a pioneering American liquid propellant rocket. Ordway later moved on to Republic Aviation, Inc. in Farmingdale, NY. Through a meeting with his good friend Arthur C. Clarke, the noted science fiction author, Ordway was contacted by film director Stanley Kubrick and spent three years working as Kubrick’s technical advisor on the landmark film 2001: A Space Odyssey. After completing his efforts on the film, Ordway was a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and shortly after became a special assistant to Robert Seamans, the first Director of the Energy Research and Development Agency, now called the Department of Energy (DOE). Fred had a long career at DOE but continued with his lifelong interest in the field of rocketry and space travel. Ordway had written numerous books on space travel, some with Wernher von Braun, and also published over 350 articles.

Survivors include sons, Frederick I. Ordway IV and Albert James Ordway, both of Huntsville; daughter, Marisol O. Lambert of Powhatan, VA; and five grandchildren.

A private family service will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The American Cancer Society or to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Foundation, 1 Tranquility Base, Huntsville, AL 35805. 

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9 Responses to Frederick I. Ordway III – Obituary

  1. Karen Mermel July 1, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I’ll miss you as I miss Maria, Fred.

  2. denniswingo July 1, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Fred was a technoarchivist of the highest order. He preserved many of the artifacts of the space age that otherwise would have gone to the trash can. His legacy in space will live for a very long time.

  3. Craig H. Williams July 2, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Although I never met Mr. Ordway in person, we converesed several times around the year 2011 time frame. We were doing conceptual designs here at NASA Glenn Research Center on nuclear fusion propulsion systems and entire vehicle designs for manned missions to the outer planets. Subscale experiments were also being done. Fred sent reference materials from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey which were invaluable to our ‘tribute’ section of the final paper, which also found welcomed reception by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick’s widow. Too many good NASA people are passing away this year. What a loss.

  4. John C. Mankins July 2, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Fred Ordway was a gentleman and visionary. I had the honor of meeting him on several occasions over the past 15 years or so, both in DC and at various conferences. His contributions to the space community and beyond were legion. In my view, perhaps none more important than his avid collection and generous sharing of truly wonderful and inspiring space art, particularly the paintings of Chesley Bonestell. He will be missed and remembered…

  5. Wayne White July 2, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    I met Fred on a number of occasions in connection with our work for the National Space Society. Fred has been on the Board of Governors, and has supported NSS for many years. I think I can speak for all of us in thanking Fred for his support.

  6. David Greeson July 2, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Fred Ordway was an inspiring figure to me, after I read about his role in the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey in Jerome Agel’s 1970 book on the making of the film. 2001 had an enormous effect on me, and seeing the very realistic fictional spacecraft on the screen that Fred helped to design inspired me to become an aerospace engineer for NASA. The movie is still my favorite of all time, mainly due to the very positive vision of human space exploration it presents. I recently got to hear Mr. Ordway speak at a Huntsville, Alabama National Space Society meeting, and it was truly a pleasure. He will be missed, and his tremendous impact on the space community will be felt for many decades to come.

  7. Russell Joyner - Fellow Aerojet Rocketdyne July 2, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    He will be missed. He was one of my primary inspirations along with A. C. Clarke and VonBraun. I have several if his books still as primary elements in my library at home… Especially the one he contributed to .. Prentice Hall ..Applied Astronautics….
    God Speed Fred Ordway… May you find what many of us here on Earth still yearn to discover in the heavens.

  8. Fred was an active member of the Sons of the Revolution in the District of Columbia and a member of our board. We will miss his friendship and wise counsel. He brought his insight, humor, and wisdom to all of our events and on behalf of the society we’d like to express our condolences to his family.

  9. Vikki Ronnau July 13, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Marisol, I just learned of your father’s passing. I am truly sorry to hear. Prayers be with you, Bob, Aliette, Frederick and all of your family. I think about you all often.
    Hugs and Love,
    The Ronnau’s

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