Gordon W Dykes
March 11, 1924 – August 22, 2019
Gordon Wayne Dykes passed away at his home on August 22, 2019, at the age of 95. He was born on March 11, 1924, in St. Petersburg, Florida, to Leopold Maurice Dykes and Martha Elizabeth Dykes (nee Hartsfield).
He started academics early when he followed his brother to the first day of school. It was midway through the year before the teachers learned he was 5 years old, but he was allowed to stay in the class because he was doing so well. Wayne often talked about building and racing sailboats with his brother Maurice and how they were involved in providing labor and soliciting donations to build what became the Gulfport Yacht Club. After graduating from St. Petersburg High School, Mr. Dykes enlisted in the Army Air Corp. The St. Petersburg Times ran an article “Gulfport Yacht Club Goes to War” as most of the young men who started the club enlisted for military service during World War II. For 20 combat missions 1st Lt Dykes served as Navigator on a B-17 in the 457th Bomb Group (H), 8th Air Force.
After the war, Wayne continued his education at the University of Florida, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. With a civil engineering degree in hand, he began his professional career at NACA at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. While at Langley he met a lovely lady named Margaret Claire Tisdale. While he teased her about having to keep the coffee pot hot for the test pilots, Margaret was a “computer girl” doing flight meteorology calculations for the nation’s earliest supersonic pilots. They were married November 18, 1950. A few years later, they moved to Tullahoma, TN, where Wayne worked on development of wind tunnels for full-scale supersonic testing. In 1960 the family moved to Huntsville, AL, and Wayne began his career with NASA which extended through the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. As Director of Facilities and Design for the Marshall Space Flight Center, he was also involved with development of the John Stennis Space Center in MS and the Michoud Assembly Facility in LA. For the Michoud project New Orleans presented Wayne with the key to the city. Many of the facilities developed during his tenure at NASA, including the neutral buoyancy tank and rocket test stands, are now on the National Registry of Historic Places. As the Apollo project was ending, Wayne became Chief of Site Activation Directorate for Safeguard Systems Command, the national defense anti-ballistic missile system. For this work he received the Department of the Army’s Decoration for Meritorious Civilian Award.
In 1974 Wayne accepted a position as Chief of the Engineering Division of the Army Corp of Engineers Mediterranean Division and moved to Italy to work out of the main office located at Camp Darby near Pisa. To better reflect the work being done, the Division was renamed the Middle East Division and Wayne’s office moved to Mt. Weather outside Berryville, VA. Several of the facilities he helped develop in Saudi Arabia were used by U.S. forces during Operation Desert Storm. In 1979 Wayne ended his career with the federal government and moved to Austin, TX, to become a Senior Partner at Page, Southerland, Page, an architectural and engineering firm. He retired in 1989 and traveled extensively around the world with Margaret by his side.
As a father, friend, businessman, and member of the community, Wayne lived his life true to the cardinal principles of Phi Kappa Tau: Fellowship, Knowledge, Truth. He generously gave of his time and money to a wide variety of charities and causes. He always took on the tough projects. As Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 310 in Huntsville, AL, he lead a very active troop that accomplish such things as hiking the Appalachian Trial through the Great Smoky Mountains. When Huntsville, AL, wanted to develop a civic center to honor Dr. Wernher von Braun and the project wasn’t proceeding smoothly, Dr. Von Braun called Wayne and asked him to get involved. Serving as Chairman of the Board of Control for the Von Braun Civic Center, he was involved in the project through the design, construction, and activation stages, flying back from Italy to attend the opening events for the Civic Center. Among the many charities he was involved with in Austin were Manos de Cristo and Meals on Wheels [at age 94 he stopped serving as a delivery driver].
Wayne is preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Lt Col Leopold Maurice Dykes, and his wife Margaret. He is survived by his children: Steven Wayne Dykes of Austin, Donna Flowers (Larry-deceased) of Mobile, AL, Brian Maurice Dykes (Pamela nee Hunt) of Mobile, AL, and Elizabeth Raiford (Daryl) of Austin. He is also survived by his six grandchildren: Laurel Dykes Williams (Brian) of Austin, Julianna Dykes Pinson (Andy) of Smithsville, Maj Stephanie Flowers of Alexandria, VA, James Flowers of Chattanooga, TN, Charlotte Raiford of Austin, and Ryan Raiford of Austin; and his great grandchildren, Annsley Williams, Emery Williams, and Mackenzie Williams all of Austin.
Visitation will be Sunday, August 25, at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, 3125 North Lamar Blvd, Austin, from 2-4 pm. The Memorial Service will be Saturday, August 31, at First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa Drive, Austin, starting at 2:30 pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Memorial Fund at First Presbyterian Church of Austin.
Sunday, August 25, 2019
Saturday, August 31, 2019
Gordon W Dykes
August 29, 2019
To all of Wayne's Family:
I am so sorry to hear of Wayne's passing. I have known him (and Margaret) for many years. I am his CPA. You already know what a kind, generous, loving and honorable person he was and how much he loves all of you.
May the many wonderful memories of him and your mother help to comfort you in this time of loss and grievance. He lived a long and full life and he will be missed by many as he touched so many lives in such a positive way.
I regret that I am out of town this weekend and will miss his service. Please let me know if I can be of help in any way.
August 27, 2019
Our deepest condolences during this time of loss. May God take each of you in His Hands, comfort you and give you peace.
Mr. Dykes was such as kind, honest, and loveable man. He will be missed by all that knew and loved him.
Mike and Debbie Flowers