Former NASA FRC center director Lee Scherer dies
Lee R. Scherer, who served as the third director of NASA's Flight Research Center from late 1971 through early 1975, died May 7, 2011 in San Diego. He was 92.
Scherer was appointed Director of the Flight Research Center, now the Dryden Flight Research Center, on Oct. 11, 1971, responsible for the overall management of advanced aeronautical flight research conducted at the center. He continued most of the programs established by his predecessor, Paul Bikle, during his tenure while aligning the center's interests and projects with those of NASA Headquarters.
After leading the Flight Research Center for three years, Scherer was appointed director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Jan. 19, 1975. Scherer oversaw the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project – a joint manned space venture with the Soviet Union in 1975 – and also the early buildup for the Space Shuttle program during his time at Kennedy.
On Sept. 2, 1979, Scherer was promoted to associate administrator for external relations at NASA Headquarters, a position he held until his retirement from NASA.
Scherer first came to NASA in 1962 while still on active duty as a captain in the U.S. Navy. Prior to his tenure at the Flight Research Center, he served in the Office of Space Science and Applications at NASA Headquarters as Assistant Director of Lunar Programs and manager of the Lunar Orbiter Program from its inception in 1963 through its successful completion in 1967. From 1967 to 1971, Scherer was director of the Apollo Lunar Exploration Office, responsible for scientific aspects of lunar exploration.
Scherer was an honors graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1942. Most of his 25-year Naval career was spent in aviation, including a tour flying carrier-based fighters and flight test experience with helicopters.
He received a second Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1949 from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and his master's degree in aeronautical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1950.
Awards he received include the NASA's Exceptional Service Medal in 1967, NASA's Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in 1969 and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 1974.
Following his retirement from NASA, Scherer served as a senior executive with General Dynamics Commercial Services Group in San Diego. Scherer had been living in retirement with his wife Sheryn in San Diego at the time of his death.