Throughout the space program, but particularly at the beginning, public relations experts from the various aerospace companies were vital in compiling facts and figures about their particular developments and products. Their work was fed directly to the media and contributed to the NASA press kits and fact sheets. They also worked in the news centers and were a valuable asset for the media.
Gene Folkman spent his first 26 years in public relations for General Electric serving as a writer and editor of several employee newspapers. In 1965, he was promoted to manager of public relations with GE operations at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and occupied that position until his retirement in 1975.
At the time, General Electric was building ground support equipment at a plant in Daytona Beach and then bringing it to Kennedy for testing and check-out of hardware for the Apollo program.
In addition to his media activities, Folkman was the primary contact between GE and the community. As a result he was involved with a number of civic groups, served as president of Kiwanis, and was a member and officer of the local public relations and media organizations.
A native of New Jersey, Folkman completed two years of college before joining the Air Force in 1943. He served as a tail ginner on medium bombers over Germany and Italy.
Returning to civilian life in 1945, he entered Syracuse University and graduated with a degree in journalism in 1948.
He and his wife, the former Erica "Penny" Schaidlich of Pauling, N.Y., have two daughters who are both educators.