Donald Holden Archer

Date of Birth

November 22, 1923

Donald Holden Archer was born to Harriet and John Archer in Omaha, Nebraska, November 22,1923. He was the third of five boys. Growing up with meager means he developed an inventiveness early in life. He started college at University of Nebraska and left to join the Army Air Corps during WWII. For his training, he was sent to Carlton College to study meteorology and became a navigator on a B25, though he did not see active duty. At the end of the war he attended MIT where he graduated in 1948 with a degree in electrical engineering.

His first job was with the Naval Research Lab in Washington DC where he designed an antennae that was eventually used on the first lunar lander, and can be seen today in the Smithsonian Museum.

Don married Meredith Dahl of Lowell, Massachusetts in 1955 and took a job at Raytheon, residing in Lexington, Mass. Here they had two children Lauren and Tor. In 1962 the family moved to Santa Barbara and Don continued to work for Raytheon. One of his lasting achievements was the development of the guidance system for the Patriot Missile. His tenure at Raytheon included a two-year hiatus in the mid 60’s to work for the Selenia Company in Rome, Italy. Here he developed and instilled in his family, a life long love of travel.

His wife Meredith passed away in 1981. He then married Vicki Parks of Santa Barbara and they had one daughter, Allison. He retired from Raytheon when she was five and they were able to continue their love for travel. Upon retiring, Raytheon awarded him their Excellence in Technology Award and the Navy held a ceremony to recognize his many contributions in electronic countermeasures.

Retirement allowed him a more involved schedule of gardening, daily workouts at the Montecito YMCA, tutoring math in the Santa Barbara school system, and having a regular glass of red wine for perceived longevity. After the disruption of the fires and mudslides in 2017, he was moved into Mariposa Assisted Living in Goleta where he enjoyed the food, the activities, and the companionship.

He is predeceased by his parents, his first wife Meredith, his brothers Jack, Dean, Bob, and Gail and his daughter Lauren. He leaves behind his second wife Vicki, his son Tor (Fiona Wilson) and two grandchildren Beatrix and Lars of Berkeley, CA, his daughter Allison (Rob Decker) of Solvang, CA and many nieces and nephews.

He was intently focused on living to be 100 years old. Although he was 4 years and 3 weeks shy of that goal, he was content living each day. He will be fondly remembered and missed for his extensive memory and the joy he took in recounting events from the past. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Montecito YMCA.


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