Richard V. Richards III, 68, of Payson, died Feb. 2, 2002, in Phoenix. He was born June 20, 1933, in Washington, Ga.
Mr. Richards graduated from Georgia Tech in 1956 with a degree in electrical engineering. After graduation, he moved to the Grand Bahamas, working at one of the first US rocket tracking stations. In 1957, he entered the military in Basic Officers School at Fort Monmouth, N.J. He was then stationed at Fort Gordon in Florida.
In 1961, he accepted a position with NASA at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. There, he helped usher the United States into the space program by working on the original Mercury/Redstone project, the Gemini program and helped put man on the moon during the Apollo program. He later helped design several integral components on Skylab and the Space Telescope, later named the Hubble Space Telescope. In 1971, he moved to Thousand Oaks, Calif., accepting a position with Northrop Grumman, and worked on the Mark 30 Torpedo Target program, among other projects.
Survivors include his wife of 20 years, Wilma Richards of Payson; one son, Jeff Richards of Thousand Oaks, Calif.; three stepchildren, Cindy Nolan of San Diego, Calif., Jeanne Hall of Thousand Oaks, Calif. and David Bradford of Simi Valley, Calif; and six step-grandchildren.