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DWIGHT E. FLORENCE, AGE 84 RETIRED AEROSPACE ENGINEER DIED ON JULY 25, 2019

Updated: Sep 6, 2019


Dwight E. Florence, age 84 of West Chester, PA died on July 25, 2019 after a long illness. Born in Zaleski, Ohio July 23, 1935 he is survived by his wife: Leslie Joy Smith, Sons: Gregory W. Florence, John L. Florence, Sister/brother-in-law Lois A. Nixon (Larry Nixon, Deceased: Brother in law/sister-in-law: Jonathan R. Smith (Susan A. Smith), Sister-in-law/brother-in-law Wendy I. Rokhsar (Richard Rokhsar).


He is also survived by Grandchildren: John John Florence, Nathan Florence, Ivan Florence, Tyler Florence, former Daughter-in-law: Katrina Florence, former Daughter-in-law Cecelia Florence, former Wife: Mary Ellen Florence (Deceased), former Sister-in-law/brother-in-law: Sally McCallum (Bennett McCallum), 6 nieces and 5 nephews.


In 1958, Dwight graduated from Ohio State University, Bachelor of Engineering (Aerospace and Astrospace) and 1966 Graduated University of Pennsylvania, Master Degree in Engineering & Applied Sciences.

Dwight joined General Electric Reentry Systems in 1960. At that time, the nation was embarking on development of intercontinental ballistic missiles in response to Russia’s Sputnik launch. He was assigned to the Thermodynamics Unit where he quickly established a technical reputation leading to his appointment as Supervisor Planetary Reentry.


A major aspect of his duties was his assignment to the Corona project, which remained a top-secret for 35 years. This was a satellite surveillance system consisting of a capsule with a parachute recovered by an aircraft. Dwight’s task was to prevent the capsule from burning up. During that time Thermodynamics was merged with Aerodynamics. Dwight was promoted to manage that unit where he led an outstanding group of engineers that worked on Air Force ICBMs.


The unit also contributed to the design of two successful planetary probes, Pioneer-Venus and Galileo (to Jupiter). Dwight then transitioned to Advance Requirements where he led numerous probe-design studies for NASA. After retirement from GE in 1993, Dwight worked as a consultant for Blue Origin on heat shield design for a vehicle to go to the International Space Station; and for NASA on heat shield needs for various vehicle designs for a return trip to the moon.


Dwight loved music! He first learned the piano, then the trumpet and coronet. He was a member of the Ohio State University Marching Band which also played at two Rose Bowls. He also played his trumpet as a member of the Chester County Concert Band.

When in high school, he became a member of the SPEBSQSA (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America) which is now the BHS (the Barbershop Harmony Society). In 1967 he joined the Bryn Mawr Mainliners Barbershop Chorus and also sang in a barbershop quartet. As a lifetime member of the Award-Winning Mainliners Chorus he helped start the Young Men in Harmony program to introduce and support barbershop style singing in local Junior and Senior High School chorus programs.


Dwight also loved the outdoors and enjoyed running, hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, water skiing, and cross-country skiing. Most of all, he loved his family; and enjoyed participating in Indian Guides when his sons were young and travelling with his family in the U.S and abroad.



A Celebration of Life service will be held at 12:30 PM on Sunday, September 29th at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1105 E. Lincoln Hwy., Exton, PA

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation in Dwight’s name to the Mainliners Chorus (a non-profit organization) https://www.mainliners.org/donate.html

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