H. K. Dunton, 88, Grumman Aerospace Engineer
Harlow K. Dunton, an engineer who was involved with aerospace operations in support of the Space Shuttle and the Lunar Module that landed Apollo astronauts on the Moon, died Saturday, January 19th at his home in Head of the Harbor, N.Y., on Long Island. He was one week short of his 89th birthday.
The cause was heart failure, his family said.
Mr. Dunton, who was born in Rockville Center, served in the U.S. Navy from 1951 to 1955. He became a pilot and was in flight operations while deployed from the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge. He earned a bachelor's degree in Physics in 1958, followed by an M.S. degree in Physics in 1962, both from Hofstra University.
He completed his Master’s degree while employed by American Bosch Arma Corporation from 1958-1962, where he worked on inertial guidance systems for Atlas rockets, specializing in accelerometers and gyros. This experience led to his 27-year tenure at what was then the Grumman Aircraft Corporation of Bethpage, N.Y.
At Grumman, Mr. Dunton worked alongside Mr. Thomas Kelly, who directed the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) Program. Mr. Dunton was responsible for the development of primary guidance systems of the LEM, mission simulator operations, coordination of ground systems, and technical support for flight readiness and launch at the Kennedy Space Center.
“My life during those days of the LEM program were the most interesting and challenging of my career”, said Mr. Dunton in a 2014 interview, adding that the “technology and the coordination among the engineers and technicians was fantastic.”
Subsequent to the successful LEM program, Mr. Dunton directed the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the first US-Soviet cooperative space venture. He went on to become Director of Space Ground Systems for the Space Shuttle, and the Deputy Director of the Space Station Program before retiring in 1990.
Mr. Dunton and is late wife Rita were avid sailors and their love of the ocean was quickly adopted by all five of their children. At every opportunity, they explored the New England coast in their 10 m sloop, White Mist, visiting friends from Long Island to Maine. Mr. Dunton was active in the Head of the Harbor community, serving as a village trustee and engineer, and building inspector. He served on planning and architectural boards and was Vice-Commodore of the Setauket Yacht Club.
Despite his failing physical health, Mr. Dunton maintained his wit and mental acuity, often recounting his 88 plus years with amazing detail. He dedicated his last years to his beloved wife Rita as she slowly succumbed to dementia. He is survived by his loving children, including daughter Allison, of Ridge, N.Y., four sons, Ken, of Port Aransas, TX., Keith, of Oconomowoc, WI., Ted, of Melbourne Beach, FL., and John of Cocoa, FL., 12 grandchildren, and one great grandson.