Richard Dresen Roll

September 28, 1922October 8, 2020

Richard “Lucky” Roll, 98, of The Woodlands, Texas, passed away October 8, 2020 after a month-long battle with pneumonia.

He was born on September 28, 1922 in St. Louis, Missouri to Richard Louis Roll and Ella Rath Roll. He had five older sisters who, no doubt, babied him. All have preceded him in death. His family was one of the earliest settlers of the new land. His sixth-great-grandfather came to America at 15 years old in 1650.

He led an extraordinary life. He left home in 1940 to join the Army Air Corps, later called the Air Force, and spent most of World War II as a flight engineer in a B-25. His awards included the Asianic-Pacific Theater of Operations medal with two Bronze Service Stars, the Good Conduct medal, and various technical skills badges.

After the war, he got his BS Degree in Electronics from the University of Houston, and he continued working for the Air Force as both a civilian contractor and in the Air Force Reserves (attaining the rank of E-8, Senior Master Sergeant) until recruited to work for the newly formed NASA where he was instrumental in the development of the spacesuits for the first Mercury flights through the Challenger Space Shuttle flights. He told of lofty stories where he helped in finding a means for potable water during space travel, as well as not-so-glamorous stories of developing a way for astronauts to go to the restroom in space (as you can imagine, some of those stories were quite funny). He remained at NASA until his retirement in 1986.

Although his life experiences and occupations took him around the world 3½ times, had him working side-by-side with the likes of Alan Shepard (the first in space), John Glenn (the first to orbit the earth), Neil Armstrong (the first on the moon), and Sally Ride (the first American woman in space), and provided him with a front row seat to a great deal of history, he would tell you that his greatest accomplishment in life was his 77 year marriage to his life-long sweetheart, Joyce, who he called “Doll”.

He dedicated his life to his church, serving as a faithful member, deacon, and elder. He gave of his time, treasure, and talents his entire life and was an example of Christian living and an inspiration to multiple generations. If you were ever listed on his church’s prayer list or if he discovered that you had any need of prayer, you should know that he prayed for you by name every night, out loud, on his knees…a practice that he continued until well into his 90’s when he finally resorted to sitting on the edge of his bed to pray because he could no longer get back up once he got to his knees.

He loved being outdoors, growing trees, and watching birds, and he had an ongoing feud with the neighborhood squirrels. If you lived near him, you probably saw him sitting in a lawn chair on his driveway in the afternoon waving as people passed by, while enjoying his treasured afternoon Dr. Pepper.

He is survived by his wife, Joyce; his son Craig Roll and wife, Donna; his daughter Kim Padgett and husband, David; Grandchildren: Haley Roll, Kevin Roll, Elise Padgett and fiancé Tyler Elings, and Haley Campanella and her husband David “DC”; numerous great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild.

Services for Mr. Roll will be private due to current restrictions.


  • Services for Mr. Roll will be private due to current restrictions


Richard Dresen Roll

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