James K. Davidson

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 12, 2010

NASHVILLE — James K. Davidson died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009. He was 82.

Mr. Davidson was born in 1927 in Vicksburg. He attended St. Aloysius High School where he graduated in 1945. He went on to attend Mississippi State University and graduated with an engineering degree in 1949. He briefly worked for the Army Corps of Engineers in Hattiesburg, where he was one of five young men personally recruited by Dr. Werner Von Braun for his Missile Ballistics Program at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala. After launching Explorer I from Cape Canaveral in 1958, Mr. Davidson was then asked to help with the development of what would eventually become John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In the 1960s Mr. Davidson began his career at John F. Kennedy Space Center where his achievements soared far beyond his greatest dreams. As a pioneer of both unmanned and manned space flight he was a member of the select “100 Missile Club” and the original Redstone team, as well as programming missions for Alan Shepard and Virgil “Gus” Grissom. After countless launches during the Redstone, Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and the space shuttle programs; Mr. Davidson retired from NASA with 32 years of service in 1982.

After a few brief years in retirement Mr. Davidson happily took a job with the State of Tennessee as an Environmental Engineer in Nashville where he resided until his death in November.

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Mr. Davidson will be laid to rest in Titusville, Fla., next to his son James Kendall Davidson who preceded him in death.

He is survived by his three children, sons Blake and Blair Davidson; a daughter, Kristin Davidson Goldean; and six grandchildren Britney, Brianne, Sydney, James, Jordan, and Zach, all of Titusville.

The family asks that donations be made in his name to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.