Distinguished Alumnus Dean Wooldridge Passes Away

Dr. Dean E. Wooldridge ('36 PhD Ph) of Santa Barbara, California passed away on Wednesday, September 20, 2006 after a brief illness. Dean Everett Wooldridge, a leading scientist and technological industrialist, was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma in 1913 and received a Master of Science degree from the University of Oklahoma before the age of 20. In 1936, at age 23, he received a Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Physics from the California Institute of Technology with the rare designation of "summa cum laude." He then became a member of the staff of the Bell Laboratories and achieved a worldwide reputation as a leading expert in the theory of magnetism basic to modern electronics. Following World War II he joined a Caltech classmate, Simon Ramo, to build a unique electronics and missile corporation now known as Hughes Electronics. In five years that company became the largest concentration of engineers and scientists in the U.S. devoted exclusively to military technology. It was the premier company producing airborne radar, computers, and guided missiles to counter a possible bomber attack on the U.S., the Hughes apparatus equipping every American interceptor airplane. In 1953, Wooldridge and Ramo founded the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation, which was awarded the prime contract for overall systems engineering and technical direction of the nation?s intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Program to which President Eisenhower assigned the highest national priority and which became the largest single weapon systems program in U.S. history. In a race with the Soviet Union, the United States became the first country to have an operational ICBM. The Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation was the first corporation to build and launch a spacecraft. One of its later spacecraft was the first to leave the solar system, transmitting back outer-space data for well over thirty years. Ramo-Wooldridge merged with its financial backer, Thompson Products, in 1958 to form TRW Inc. It became one of the world?s largest high-technology companies with Dean Wooldridge as its president, a position he occupied until he retired in 1962. In retirement, Wooldridge took up the study of microbiology and authored two highly respected books, The Machinery of the Brain and The Machinery of Life, which were widely recommended in post-graduate courses in leading universities. Wooldridge served as a trustee of the California Institute of Technology and a consultant to the President?s Science Advisor. He was the recipient of a number of honors including membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award. Dr. Wooldridge married Helene Detweiler in 1936. She passed away in 2001. He leaves three children, Dean E. Wooldridge, Jr. of Las Vegas, Nevada, Anna Lou Eklof of Bailey, Colorado, and James A. Wooldridge of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and three grandchildren, Michael Andrew, Jonathan David, and Lisa Michelle Wooldridge.