John Eugene Gerngross
John Eugene Gerngross, 90, passed away peacefully on June 26, 2014 at his home in Santa Barbara. Born on February 1, 1924 in Laurel Springs, NJ, John was the fourth of five children of George Gerngross and Anna Dursch.
John was the first in his family to go to college and through a combination of hard work, careful money management and a football scholarship, he attended freshman year at the University of New Hampshire in 1942 and undertook an engineering curriculum. As World War II expanded, John signed up for the Army Reserve Corps that December and served until March 1946. During his service time he took advantage of the Army’s college education program and studied Electrical Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Tech). It was here that he met his wife Eileen and they were married in 1948. John graduated with an EE degree in 1946 and then went on to obtain a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1951.
John started his career at General Electric Company in Schenectady, NY in 1951 working on large steam turbine plants used to generate electricity. It was here that his children John and Joanna were born. John’s career took the family back and forth across the U.S., living and working in New York, Washington DC, Maryland, California and Massachusetts. He worked for several major aerospace companies, eventually retiring from the Raytheon Company in 1981. He worked on a number of important defense programs which took him to Europe many times. During the height of the Cold War he made a presentation to NATO about the defense of its members.
After retirement, John and Eileen sold their house, purchased a sailboat and took off on a sailing adventure that lasted six years and took them thousands of miles up and down the East Coast and throughout the Bahamas. They had many fun adventures, lots of family visits and the occasional scary moment and it was a special time in their lives. After their time on the boat they moved to California in 1989. His grandchildren started arriving then and he was devoted to them. Soon after, John Jr. started Condor Engineering and John Sr. came out of retirement to be his first, best and most devoted employee. John Sr. was instrumental in the success of the company and it was a special time for father and son to be able to work together for so many years until John’s second retirement in 2003.
John’s hobbies included photography, ham radio, hiking and bicycling. He enjoyed going to Switzerland to see his daughter, granddaughters and extended family.
John is survived by his loving family including his wife of 66 years, Eileen; his children John (Cheryl Doty) of Santa Barbara; Joanna (Joe) Hediger of Ibach, Switzerland; grandchildren Emily Gerngross, Lilian Dutoit, Anna Gerngross, and Melanie Dutoit; step-grandson Austin Gibson.
John will be sorely missed by all. He touched many people with his kindness, thoughtfulness and leadership. He was always tuned into the issues of the world and the latest technologies and enjoyed discussing them. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather who always looked after his family. His devotion, kindness and courage are an inspiration for us all.
A memorial service will be held in the Theater Room at 900 Calle de Los Amigos on July 5 at 3 PM. Memorial donations may be made to the Valle Verde Scholarship Fund through the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.