Donald Michael Lange was born on July 24, 1930 to Ernest and Ella (Michael) Lange in Pipestone, Minnesota. He was baptized on November 30, 1930 and confirmed in May of 1943 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Pipestone. Donald attended Pipestone High School, graduating with the class of 1948. Following high school, Donald enlisted in the United States Marines Corps and honorably served his country in the Korean War until his discharge in 1952. When he returned stateside, he furthered his education at Ventura College in Ventura, California and the University of California, Berkeley where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.
On June 18, 1955 Donald was united in marriage to Barbara Jean Lee in El Rio, California. Their marriage was blessed with two children: Dale and Dana. Donald was employed at the USC Engineering Center where he was Design Engineer for Moffett Field CA Aerospace Wind Tunnels. From 1961 to 1974 he worked for Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. in Sunnyvale, California. He was in the Advanced Projects Group “Skunk Works”, being the supervisor of Satellite Test Program for pre-manned space flight, Resident Rep. at Vandenberg Air Force base, responsible for final approval of all missile launches. Key Engineer on the “Corona” project, which involved production and operation of strategic reconnaissance satellites for the CIA. The Discoverer Satellite was launched on the Agena rocket during the Cold War after the U2 spy plane initial phase. The program provided photographic surveillance to assess the Soviet Union’s production of long-range bombers and ballistic missiles. It also investigated the communication and environmental aspects for manned space flight. He was also involved with the Classified Program Office where he directed implementation of test programs for large-scale satellite systems.
Donald and Barbara made their home in Henning, Minnesota in 1974 where Donald was the manager and operator of a large dairy and beef cattle farm, producing milk products and crops. He also worked for Rockwell International Autonetics Group Special Programs in Tehran, Iran as the Resident Lead Engineer for Reconnaissance Communications project for the Iranian Government, and the Shah of Iran. The project involved surveillance of USSR and Iraq. He then moved on to own and manage 4 Corners Truck Stop in Henning which included a gas station, a restaurant, and a convenience store.
In 1982 Donald returned to Raytheon Service Co. in Ventura, California and was employed as a Project Engineer responsible for the Kitting Program Office for supply and retrofitting equipment of US Navy ships, moving on to Raytheon Missile Systems Division in Oxnard, California in 1984 where he was a Proposal Manager for Fuze Devices for Insensitive Munitions and Electronic Safe Arm, coordinated joint efforts of Missile Systems Labs and Sandia National Laboratory and managed all device development support. He was also the Program Manager for Patriot Manufacturing Projects – Transferred all Patriot surface-to-air missile defense system production projects from other Raytheon facilities to Oxnard facility. Managed all projects including contract and cost proposals in support of multi-year procurements, spares and retrofit production programs.
Donald worked for Raytheon Service Co. in Goleta, California and Irvine, California as an Engineering Manager for all shipboard installation and test of Counter Measure Systems. Program Manager for repair and refurbishment of RF Modules and Radomes for the main Counter Measures Pod for US Navy ships.
In 1993 Donald and Barbara made their home in Deer Creek, Minnesota where they enjoyed their retirement together. Barbara passed away on November 10, 2003.
Donald was united in marriage to Ethel Mary Ann Gribbon on January 20, 2005 in Henning, Minnesota. Together they enjoyed their retirement in Baxter, Minnesota and Tuscon, Arizona. Ethel passed away on January 3, 2012. Following her death, Donald returned to Henning and remained a resident of Otter Tail County.
Over the years, Donald had many hobbies and interests. Some include photography, backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, camping, traveling, playing cards, bowling, and spending time with family. He was the leader of St. Luke Lutheran Church Youth Ministry in Sunnyvale, California, a trustee of First Lutheran Church in Ventura, California, a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (I.E.E.E), the Raytheon Co. Management Program, the American Legion of the State of Minnesota, and the Deer Creek Lions Club.
On August 8, 2020 Donald passed away at the Good Samaritan Society. He will be dearly missed by his family and friends. Preceding Donald in death are his loving spouses: Barbara Jean Lange; and Ethel Gribbon Lange; parents; brothers: Ernest Lange; Emroy Lange; and Lloyd Lange; sister: Lucille Houselog (Lange).
Donald is survived by his children: Dale Lange, Agricultural Equipment Engineer of Somis, California; and Dana Lange, Medical IT Network/VoIP Specialist of Corona, California; granddaughter: Brittany Ann Lange of Texas; numerous nieces, nephews, many other relatives, and a host of friends.
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