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Richard Grillo ’54

May 21, 2020, in Puyallup, Washington.

Richard grew up in Cle Elum, Washington, where he played sports and made lifelong friends. He was proud of his Italian heritage, and as a boy traveled with his father to visit his many relatives in Massachusetts and shared his parents’ passion for fishing for salmon in the coastal waters and lakes of Washington State.

After high school, he attended Reed for two years, playing football and basketball both years. Coming from a small town where few people went on to college, he discovered that “Reed was really the ‘fast lane,’” He remembered the antiquated physics lab in the basement of Eliot and “the super gentleman” Charles Botsford [physical education 1912–52]. Richard had planned to continue his studies in mechanical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but in the summer of 1952, the Army called, and he was drafted. He attended officer candidate school and held leadership roles in the Army Reserve, holding the rank of colonel when he retired in 1983. While in the reserve, he completed his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Washington, and got a job with the Boeing Aerospace Company in Seattle. He later transferred to the Space Center in Kent, where he was a senior specialist engineer. Richard was proud of his involvement in NASA and Apollo projects, including the Lunar Orbiter satellite program, the Lunar Roving Vehicle program, and the Inertial Upper Stage, a space launch system used for raising payloads from low Earth orbit to high orbits or trajectories following launch aboard a Titan rocket or the payload bay of the space shuttle.

Richard married his high school sweetheart, Florence Mae Woodward, in 1954. They lived in Tukwila, where they raised their children; upon retiring, moved to Allyn, Washington, where they enjoyed life on the golf course. Richard is survived by his daughter, Portia Smith; his sons, Richard Grillo Jr. and Kevin Grillo; and his brothers, Joseph Grillo Jr. and Robert Grillo.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2020

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