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Dengler, Roberts, Perna Funeral Home

8630 Transit Road, East Amherst, NY

OBITUARY

William J. Rae

September 3, 1929July 15, 2020
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William J. Rae, an aeronautical engineer, researcher and professor known for his deeply respectful and loving manner, a father to four and grandfather to three, died Wednesday, July 15, in his home in Kensington, Maryland. He was 90. Accomplished in the fields of aerospace, flight dynamics and fluid mechanics, he was a Principal Engineer at Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory and its successor, Calspan, and a Professor in the SUNY-Buffalo Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering before his retirement in 2002. He received the title of SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, the highest faculty rank in the SUNY system. His engineering research contributed to everything from NASA’s space exploration missions to road vehicle dynamics and efficiency, helical particle separation, and understanding the flight dynamics of a football. For one course at UB, he taught the fundamental properties of aerodynamic flight by having his students “fly” a football using simulation software. After years of research, he developed a theory that explained the complexity of a forward pass, and became a leading expert on football aerodynamics. In 2016 he was inducted into the Niagara Frontier Aviation & Space Hall of Fame in recognition of his long career in aviation. Born in Buffalo as the youngest of three children, he lived for many years in Snyder with his wife of 63 years, Esther Horan Rae, before their move to Maryland in 2016. A gentle giant, he exuded love, compassion and patience. He held a deep reservoir of faith and conviction and a lighthearted sense of humor. His manner combined a steady hum of reassurance, a quick wit, and a twinkle in his blue eyes. He also had a clear-eyed outrage over injustices, and a steady faith in people working toward fairness.

In civic and religious life, he was concerned with human rights, peace and justice. Over the years he served on the boards of HOME (Housing Opportunities Made Equal), Medaille College, Christ the King Seminary and the Catholic Campus Ministry Foundation, and was a member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council of the Diocese of Buffalo. He and his wife were active in St. Joseph University Parish in Buffalo. He loved sailing, both for the feeling and the fascination with the aerodynamics. One autumn day in the early 1980s, he sailed by a small island in Six Mile Lake, Ontario, where he vacationed, and saw a cottage that had fallen into disuse. The place became a cherished retreat for his children and grandchildren. He delighted in the natural beauty, the time with family and the chance to sit by the water and watch the sun set.

Surviving are his wife, Esther; two daughters, Barbara and Leah; two sons, Michael and Matthew, three grandchildren, Alex, Andrew and Ellie, and many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Kensington Park Employee Appreciation Fund, Attn: Letty Diai, 3620 Littledale Road, Kensington, MD 20895; or Newman Center, University at Buffalo, 495 Skinnersville Road, Amherst, NY 14228.

Services

MEMORIAL OBSERVANCE: On Saturday, July 25, our immediate family will gather for a small, private ceremony in Maryland. All of our friends and relatives are invited to share in this observance simply by dedicating a moment to remember him on this day. You might spend a moment in silence, give a toast, tell a story, or perhaps throw a football. See the ‘Memories’ section below for more information.

OTHER SERVICES: A Memorial Mass in Buffalo will be scheduled at a later date.

  • DONATIONS

  • Kensington Park Employee Appreciation Fund
  • Newman Center @ the University at Buffalo

Services

  • Memorial Observance: All of our friends & relatives are invited to share in this observance simply by dedicating a moment to remember Bill on this day.

    Saturday, July 25, 2020

Memories

William J. Rae

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Elise DeGooyer

July 29, 2020

With gratitude and celebration for the legacy of hospitality, curiosity, joy and love that your dad has left so generously in the world! In hope, Elise & Bernie (Michael’s JVC housemates from times past)

Hannah Henkin

July 27, 2020

I still remember how Bill and his family made us feel so welcome at 6 Mile Lake. Hearing more about how the camp came to be and what it meant to him makes it even more special. His excitement and wonder for the world around him was contagious. He exuded such a quiet, easy warmth that welcomed strangers and family into his circle. Reading all of these memories paints an incredible picture of his life and his soul. His warmth, steadiness, wit, and twinkle is definitely carried on in the rest of the family.

Margaret gould

July 27, 2020

My family had the very good fortune of living next door to Bill Rae and his wonderful family for 38 years. He was a humorous, kind, and knowledgeable man; the classic gentleman. He never spoke a harsh word despite broken windows and damaged fences caused by snow-blowers, or errant footballs or basketballs in the hands of his energetic neighbors. My fondest memory captures his tremendous generosity. When he discovered my sister and brother-in-law were looking for a used car, he gave them his old Mercury Sable, in good shape, other than a defective odometer. Bill called me several days later, expressing regrets that the car was not in pristine shape. I reassured him that they were elated with their FREE car, but did not divulge the $50 fee for the odometer repair. Knowing Bill he would have offered to pay!

Bill Donohue

July 26, 2020

Bill Rae shared a deep love for Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory with me and urged me to write a brief history of that most exceptional institution. The hours spent with Bill were a window not only into the critical factors that composed CAL but into his beautifully intelligent and sensitive person.

Daniel Henkin

July 26, 2020

I'll always remember the cabin on Six Mile Lake and how much serenity I felt there with the whole family. Bill was always eager to describe and explain the world, whether it be techniques for water-skiing, how an ice cream maker worked, or how a football would stabilize in flight. I believe Bill was one of the first people I met in Engineering, and I know that his passion for the mathematics that govern our world rubbed off on me in an indelible way. I already miss his humor and joy.

Mimi McVey

July 26, 2020

This is the most beautiful tribute video. I had tears and smiles simultaneously. Bill certainly lived a very full life. I was remembering Bill and his family yesterday as you were celebrating his life. The grandchildren are so beautiful. I loved seeing pictures of your camp in Canada and thinking “so that’s where they disappear to each summer”. My sympathies to you all. Mimi (friend of Michael and Tamar).

Jacob Ledwon

July 25, 2020

Now if only WE can live for others as well as he did. Excuse the typo in my earlier message

Katie Hwu

July 25, 2020

Uncle Bill was such a kind, gentle, intelligent & loving man. He always exuded a sense of calm & peacefulness. His welcoming smile lit up his face. Uncle Bill & Aunt Esther created an incredibly special family together. Today, I took a walk in my neighborhood and thought about Uncle Bill as I admired the beautiful gardens along the way. Sending my love, hugs and deepest condolences to Aunt Esther and the entire Rae family.

Jack Ledwon

July 25, 2020

What a wonderful man, and a blessing to all who knew him. All of our lives are better because he shared part of our journey. Now if he can only live for others as well as he did. I'll have a wee dram in his honor tonight - or maybe not so wee!

Tricia Townsell

July 25, 2020

We spent the morning visiting some of Uncle Bill's favorite places.
So many happy memories!!

Love,
Tricia

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

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