Richard McFarland, Ph.D., P.E., age 83 of Athens died Monday evening, Sept. 3, 2012 at Kimes Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Athens. He was a renowned researcher and pilot who made significant contributions to the field of aviation safety. His work with Instrument Landing Systems has been used in airports throughout the United States.
He was born Jan. 20, 1929 in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of the late J.B. & Flossie Church McFarland. His childhood was spent in Massillon, Ohio where his parents made it possible for him to enter the field of aviation. When he was a young child, his mother arranged for him to have his first flight aboard a Ford Tri-Motor plane.
At Ohio University, he learned to fly and obtained his pilot’s license through the university aviation program. As a student, he would fly home on weekends and land in a neighbor’s field. For the rest of his life, flying was a singular passion and always his preferred mode of transportation.
He earned his B.S. in Mathematics and was in Air Force ROTC at Ohio University. He was called to active duty in Korea while attending graduate school at Purdue and served as an Air Force Meteorologist. He returned to Lockbourne Air Force Base near Columbus and completed his Master degree and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at Ohio State University. He began his teaching career as an Assistant Professor at O.S.U. and then returned to Ohio University in 1962 where he would spend the next 48 years on the faculty. He retired in 2010 as Russ Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering.
He was the founder and director of the Avionics Engineering Center at Ohio University. He worked on projects with the FAA, NASA, the U.S. Air Force, industrial organizations, and individual airport commissions. He worked on landing systems at over 100 airports. As a pilot who held airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates and who has compiled more than 21,000 hours of flying time, he was called upon to serve as an expert witness in a number of legal trials involving airplane crashes.
His awards and honors include Washington High School (Massillon) Distinguished Citizen, Ohio University Alumnus of the Year, Aviation Week and Space Technology Laurel Award, Fellow in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE), Institute of Navigation Hayes Award, FAA Distinguished Service Award and Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. He served as an Elder at the First Christian Church in Athens for over 50 years.
Dr. McFarland is survived by his wife, Norma; his son, Dr. David McFarland of Lake Charles, Louisiana; two daughters- Jeanne McFarland (David) Hoopes of Rock River, Ohio and Laurel (Christopher Williams) McFarland of Silver Springs, Maryland. He has four grandchildren- Patrick, Andrea, Clement and Bracklinn.
The family wishes to extend gratitude to Dr. Jen-Tzar Gau for his loving medical care.
Funeral service will be conducted Saturday 2:00 pm at the First Christian Church, Congress and State Streets, Athens with Rev. Deanna White officiating. Entombment will be in Athens Memory Gardens Mausoleum. Friends may call Friday 5-8 pm at Jagers & Sons Funeral Home, Athens.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the McFarland Electrical Engineering Scholarship, c/o the Ohio University Foundation, P.O. Box 869, Athens, Ohio 45701.
Please share a memory, a note of condolence or sign the online register book at www.jagersfuneralhome.com.