Trio of Early Leaders Played Vital Role in Growth of Stennis Space Center
Virginia Seal Wagner (fourth from right) talked about this excursion on the Doris M., the Seal family boat, during her oral history interview. Pictured from left are, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Suter; Wernher von Braun's sister-in-law; Fred Wagner; Mr. and Mrs. Dallas Stanton; Wernher von Braun's father, Magnus; Wernher von Braun's wife, Maria; Wernher von Braun; Virginia Wagner; Jack Thompson; and Capt. and Mrs. William Fortune. This photo was taken Oct. 26, 1964, when Wernher von Braun and his family arrived by boat at the Mississippi Test Facility during a vacation to the Gulf Coast.
Wealtha Fortune Weaver of Ocean Springs stands next to a photo of her father, Capt. William C. Fortune (center) who was the first site manager of the Mississippi Test Operations, now John C. Stennis Space Center. Weaver accompanied her father on his last visit to the space center in 1997 when he was honored with a reception. Photographed with Fortune in the background are former center directors, Roy Estess, left, and Jerry Hlass.
Jackson Balch (left) hurries with Sen. John C. Stennis (center) and NASA Acting Administrator George Low during a busy and well-remembered day at the Mississippi Test Facility (now John C. Stennis Space Center) in November 1970. A host of NASA Headquarters officials, agency heads, and members of Congress came to MTF for an "Apollo Awards Ceremony" that turned into an all-day business session with the future of the installation as the main topic of conversation.
Gulfport resident Jackson "Jack" Balch Jr. poses with a photograph of his father, Jackson Balch Sr., who served as the second site manager for 10 years at Mississippi Test Facility (now John C. Stennis Space Center). Balch led efforts in transitioning the center from a single mission operation to where it is today as a multiagency, home to more than 30 resident agencies.