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George E. Richmond, chief engineer at Calspan, WWII Navy veteran

Nov. 21, 1925 – Dec. 6, 2013

George Edward Richmond, a World War II Navy veteran and chief engineer at Calspan Corp. in Cheektowaga, died Friday at Canterbury Woods, Amherst, after a short illness. He was 88.

A Kenmore native, Mr. Richmond worked at Calspan, the aeronautics and transportation testing and research company, for most of his career. He began his career in the wind tunnel program for the company’s predecessor, Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory, in 1949 and retired from Calspan in 1990. He had worked for Barrister Information Systems from 1980 to 1985, where he designed computer systems for lawyers.

During his career at Calspan, he worked in cutting-edge computer programming, including working with younger engineers to build war-games simulators for the military. He also invented the first simulator for military aircraft, to test their ability to penetrate hostile defenses.

“He was basically a computer scientist after his wind tunnel days,” said his son William Richmond of Richland, Wash.

Mr. Richmond graduated from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute and had begun studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before World War II.

When the war broke out, he was drafted into the Navy and was stationed stateside to work on radar development for airplanes. After the war, he returned to RPI in 1946 but switched to University of Buffalo after starting work at CAL. In 1951, he graduated from UB with a degree in electrical engineering.

During his Calspan career, he conducted research in radar detectability, antiballistic-missile systems, automatic pattern recognition and air-defense simulation.

He also helped pioneer the use of large-scale computers at Calspan, founded its Computer Research Department and headed its Computer Center for 10 years.

He published papers on the use of lasers to investigate aerial photographs and also holds a patent for identifying textures in aerial photos.

From 1954 to 1974, he owned and operated Richmond Tabulation Service, a company started by his grandfather – longtime Buffalo Commercial City Editor A.E. Richmond – to compile and provide fast and accurate local election results for newspapers.

Mr. Richmond was active at Canterbury Woods as one of the senior community’s first residents and served as president of the Residents Council and an ex-officio member of the board of directors for Episcopal Church Home, which owns Canterbury Woods.

He also was a regular at Amherst Town Board meetings, often speaking out on town issues, particularly development. Mr. Richmond was a member of the Amherst Conservation Advisory Council.

He was of a member of Western New York Genealogical Society and dedicated the stage at the SUNY Buffalo State music school earlier this year.

His wife, Joan Steinmiller Richmond, died in 2010.

Survivors include three other sons, Mark, Dr. Thomas and James Richmond; two daughters, the Rev. Nancy and Dr. Carol Brown; and a sister, Joy Herlan.

A service has not been scheduled.

– Jonathan D. Epstein

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