Dr. Merle J. Aleshire, age 87, born Dec. 30, 1933 to parents Howard and Eula Aleshire in a small 3-room farm tenant house in Hancock County, Illinois. He had two sisters, Edythe Eileen and Patricia Ann who preceded him in death. He rode a horse to grade school, Hickory Flat, a one-room country elementary school, and graduated from the Carthage High School in 1951 where he excelled in sports. He attended Carthage College for 3 years on a football scholarship and was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1954. He activated and served at a NIKE surface to air missile site from 1954 to 1956.
He married his childhood sweetheart, Dorothy Ann Ikerd of Nauvoo, Illinois in 1958 and had three sons, Benton, Brett (deceased), and Barron. He is also survived by two granddaughters, Brittany and Kaylan Aleshire.
After military service, he attended Fresno State College earning degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics. He attended graduate schools at UCLA earning a Masters degree in digital processes & control systems, and a PhD degree at United States International University in leadership and human behavior. He was a private pilot and outdoorsman with hobbies of hunting, fishing, golfing, and other outdoor activities. He owned and operated a grain farm in Illinois.
He was a retired aerospace executive after 33 years with the General Dynamics Corporation. He began his career as a flight test engineer for the Atlas Missile that launched Alan Sheppard and John Glenn into orbit. Following that, he held a number of research, development and senior management positions. He conducted various studies for the Department of Defense, Air Force Scientific Division, and the National Academy of Sciences. He published numerous papers on military weapon systems and space vehicles. He was awarded a Navy Commendation for his contributions to anti-submarine warfare. In 1972, Dr. Aleshire was one of three original developers of the unmanned Tomahawk Cruise Missile that is now being used by the military services. It was a forerunner to other current unmanned drone systems.
Dr. Aleshire’s civic duties included; President of the Escondido Union School District Board of Education, President of the Boys & Girls Club, Board of Directors for the March of Dimes, Vice Chairman of the Palomar Council of the Boy Scouts of America, President of the Association of Resident Owners, Founding member of a Community Foundation, Director of the Valley Center Municipal Water District, Director of the Association of California Water Agencies, Director of the ACWA-Joint Powers Insurance Authority and Director of the ACWA-Health Benefits Authority. He continued in some public service capacity from 1970 until the time of his death.
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