NASA People

Center Snapshot: Lloyd Welton
Lloyd Welton. Image above: Keeping up with technological advances in television and with two growing daughters keeps Lloyd Welton active -- and sometimes tired. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

By: Jim Hodges

It's been more than six years since Christa Welton, an Army reservist, was recalled to active duty for one year and deployed to Ft Bliss, Texas, leaving husband Lloyd home with their two young girls, Amber and Ashleigh.

"You're pretty much a single parent when your spouse is gone," said Lloyd, who works in video technology at NASA Langley. "I had to fix dinner, do homework, make sure they got their showers and to bed on time, and then turn around and get them on the bus in the morning. I even went to PTA meetings."

He also was a full-time broadcast engineer at a commercial station in Columbia, S.C.

"You get closer to them," he said of the time spent with his daughters. "They know me and all of my moods and habits and what I like and dislike. And I learned they have a lot more energy than me."

The lessons continue as they grow older, even with Christa back at home. "Now I'm learning that they are becoming little women," he said. "They are young ladies, and they show their feminine side more than before."

Since his wife's deployment, the family has moved to Newport News and he has gone to work at NASA Langley, where his job as a video engineer encompasses transmitting video to different NASA centers, operating Langley's television system, broadcasting special events on center and maintaining video quality control.

In addition to his regular tasks, Welton also assists others with video conferencing. "Most people aren't traveling as much now because of the expense, so the use of video conferencing is getting more and more popular every year," he said.

He developed an interest in electronics while in the Army, where he also met wife Christa. Welton left the Army, but his wife, who now has 31 years of service logged, stayed in as a reservist. After the military, Welton went to school for electronics and television and earned three degrees.

Upon graduating from college, he worked for a television station in Richmond, and also two in South Carolina, where he and his wife were eventually married. They resided there in Columbia, until finally making the move to Virginia. When her Army reserve job was moved to Jackson, Miss., logistics grew difficult. A cosmetology teacher at Gloucester High School, she commutes to Jackson for monthly weekend meetings, leaving Welton and the girls to continue developing their relationship.

"I spend a lot of outdoor time with them," he said. "We go to different shows like RV Shows and the Home and Garden Shows around Hampton Roads. I go to the movies with them, and teach them the value of money."

That's a two-way lesson, too. "They use that 'soft talk' on me," he said. 'It's 'Daddy, I want this,' and 'Daddy, will you get me that?' We're in a clothing store and pass by the women's section and they want something." He admitted that they point to a style while he points to a price tag.

The lessons continue.

Welton's personal outlet comes during a two-hour period in the evening when he is alone with a book or the TV, and again on Sunday mornings, when he lends a tenor voice to his church choir. "I love to sing," Lloyd said. "It's a release for me."

Keeping up with two young girls and also with a job in which technology is constantly changing is a challenge. When he began in television, the technical equipment he worked on half-filled a room. "Now it's a compact player (about two feet square)," he said.

The challenge keeps him going.

"It's exciting, I think it keeps me young.” “It's constantly changing. What you buy this year could be obsolete next year, and that keeps me wondering what's going to happen next, instead of sitting at home in a rocking chair."

Not that Amber and Ashleigh would ever let him sit at home in a rocking chair.