Richard Quig Roelofs, P.E.

Oct. 20, 2014

Richard Quig Roelofs, P.E., (BS Mech Egr ’57) of Saco, Maine, died Oct. 13, 2014, at Seal Rock Health Care in Saco, Maine. He was 85.

He was born Dec. 14, 1928, in Logan Township, Pa., and was the youngest of three children. As a young child he first attended the two-room schoolhouse in Scotia, Pa., where his parents operated a seafood restaurant. His family kept up this restaurant during the early days of the Depression, but by 1939 his father felt the restaurant was on the verge of failing and they decided to move the family to Detroit, Mich.

An avid reader, he was especially good at mathematics and was accepted into Cass Technical High School in Detroit, graduating in 1946. He enlisted in the Officers' Naval Aviation College Program to become a naval pilot. The first part of the program was held at Michigan State University and the flight training was in Pensacola, Fla. It was during these years that Roelofs put his love for science and mathematics into the world of flight, mechanics and navigation.

When the Korean War started, he joined the Coast Guard. His last tour of active duty was on the Great Lakes of Michigan, where he grew to love travelling by water as much as navigating by air. After the war he returned to his beloved Michigan State, graduating in 1957 as a mechanical engineer and in 1960 receiving his professional engineering certification, which landed him a job in the Chrysler Missile Division.

At this time the space program was just beginning and Chrysler Corp. was contracted to work with NASA. Roelofs was proud to be a part of the first USA foray into outer space travel and became part of the team that tested and developed the launching of both the Redstone and Jupiter missiles.

It was during these years that he met Marilyn A. Flannery through a date - set up by a Russian engineer at the space program. They were married on Feb. 22, 1963, and recently celebrated 51 years together.

Later in his career, he worked on developing the first gas turbine engine for Chrysler, and as a Chrysler executive engineer he worked on various developments for the next 28 years until he retired and moved to Maine.

Never one to be without a project, his first retirement project involved building a post and beam home on Maine’s Gouldsboro Bay. He did everything from floors to plumbing to electrical work, with his wife, Marilyn, as construction assistant. But after a few years they both felt it was too remote, so they sold that home and built another home of equal size and grandeur in Pownal.

He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; daughter, Michelle (Marc) Lesperance; grandchildren, Jacob and Rosa; and others.

A memorial service was hosted on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, at Joseph's by the Sea in Old Orchard Beach in Maine.

Funeral services will be at Sacred Heart Church in Bad Axe, Mich., on July 11, 2015, with burial at Sacred Heart Cemetery.