George Walter Sutton, 93, died peacefully at his home on February 13, 2021. Born on August 3, 1927 in Brooklyn, New York to Jack and Pauline Sutton, he was preceded in death by his beloved wife and best friend of 68 years, Evelyn Doris Sutton (Kunnes). He is survived by his sons, James, Charles, Richard, and Stewart, four granddaughters, and two grandsons.
An eminent scientist and engineer, George attended Brooklyn Technical High School. He graduated with honors from Cornell University School of Engineering in 1952 and received his Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering and Physics magna cum laude from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1955. He served in the United States Merchant Marine during WWII and the Army Air Force in Okinawa through 1947.
Dr. Sutton was an expert in heat protection material for hypersonic flight, magnetohydrodynamics, and high-power lasers. He developed the first ablation heat shield that allowed rockets and missiles reentry from space. This invention made the first U.S. reconnaissance satellites possible as it allowed the use of a film recovery vehicle from observation satellites. He developed the first high-power laser and also the high frequency transcutaneous energy supply, which is used to power artificial hearts.
Dr. George Sutton has co-authorized three books and had 130 articles published in scientific journals. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council. He was an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the AIAA Journal for almost 30 years. Dr. Sutton has taught at Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, and MIT, has received numerous honors, medals and awards, and holds eight patents. He received the Arthur S. Flemming award in 1965 for "unique contributions to the fields of heat protection of hypersonic re-entry vehicles, and magnetohydrodynamic power generation”; and he was inducted into the Brooklyn Technical High School Alumni Hall of Fame in 2005.
George enjoyed playing classical piano, sailing, swimming, tennis, and the theater. He was also a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, treasuring opportunities to travel abroad with his wife, sailing with his sons, and spending time with his much-loved grandchildren.
George will be inurned at Arlington Cemetery along with his wife at a future date.