Howard Wesley Davis

Date of Birth

February 21, 1920

Date of Death

June 16, 2010

City of Death


February 21, 1920 – June 16, 2010

Lt. Col. Howard Wesley Davis, USAFR retired, born in Cambridge Iowa on February 21, 1920, died at home in Goleta California on June 16, 2010, at the age of 90.

Howard lived a long, productive, fascinating life. He graduated from Syracuse University with both a bachelors and masters degree in Physics. He served his country in World War II as a member of the newly formed Army Air Corp, and transitioned to a career in the Air Force Reserve. In the military, he was a pilot instructor, the interpreter who OKed the weather over Hiroshima that fateful day, one of the first people to fly into the eye of a hurricane, and many other military, technical, & scientific firsts.

He was a nationally respected Physicist working in infared technology, with several of his projects still flying through the heavens. From the Apollo space program, to LandSat satellites, to early Eyes of the Navy projects, he was at the heart of many aerospace programs. Much of his work eventually transitioned to civilian uses, like infrared detection systems, remote sensing, or remote controls — developed mostly for military uses, but now so common that we all benefit and take them for granted.

A master scientist and inventor, Howard’s genius was not limited to optics, but extended to enhancing numerous other technologies. While the companies he worked for hold the patents on most of his inventions, he continued to invent and consult in recent years, in fields as divergent as frangible ammunition, where he holds patents in common with his son-in-law. Ethical, responsible, intelligent behavior defined his beliefs and actions.

Although Howard was quite a workaholic, he found time for personal interests as well. He was a gun enthusiast, an accomplished candy-maker, and made his own wines for several years. He had a marvelous green thumb and excelled at growing orchids and boysenberries.

Howard is survived by: his wife of 63 years, Betty Davis; his children and their spouses, Pat & Bruce Clark, Scott Davis, Becky Davis & Bill Jopson, Mark & Kathy Davis; his grandchildren and their spouses, Dave & Jen Clark, Dan & Mel Clark; and his great-grandchildren, Hunter, Molly, Ryan, & Hailey Clark.

Howard was a treasured influence and role-model in all of their lives. Loved as a father, friend, quirky genius, and superb scientist, he will be greatly missed by all who were lucky enough to know him. He changed us all for the better.


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