Allan James McDonald, 83, passed away on March 6, 2021. Allan was born in Cody, Wyoming to John and Eva McDonald on July 9, 1937, and spent most of his early life in Montana.
He married Linda Zuchetto from Michigan on April 20, 1963, at St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Brigham City, Utah.
Allan graduated with a BS in Chemical Engineering from Montana State University (MSU) in 1959, an MS in Engineering Administration from the University of Utah in 1967, and received an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering from MSU in 1986.
He joined Thiokol Chemical Corporation in 1959. Within his 42-year career with Thiokol, he was involved in numerous roles supporting Missile Defense Programs for the U.S. Air Force and Navy. He was most remembered for his role as the Director of the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Motor Project at the time of the Challenger accident in 1986. He later became the Vice President of Space Engineering and led the successful redesign of the solid rocket motors that returned the Space Shuttle to safe flight in 1988.
In 2009 he published a book titled “Truth Lies and O-Rings, Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster” concerning his experience with the accident and lessons learned. In his retirement years, he gave numerous lectures on the Challenger accident and its relevance to engineering and business ethics today.
He was preceded in death by his parents John and Eva, sister Juanita, and brothers John and Arthur.
He is survived by his wife Linda, son Greg, and daughters Lisa (Ted), Lora (John), Meghan (Dave), and nine grandchildren: Robbie, Remy, Isabelle, Molly, Christopher, Kate, Meg, Quinn and Mason.
He will be remembered as a rocket scientist, engineer, author, tennis player, skier, fly fisherman, hunter, and most of all a loving son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend.
As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be made to the Weber State University Newman Center at 3738 Custer Avenue Ogden, UT 84403.
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