Richard William Husher Jr, 97, resident of Waban, MA, passed away on Thursday, 23 May, 2019, at home after a brief illness. A Celebration of Life memorial service will be held on Saturday, 22 June, at 10 A.M. at the Union Church in Waban, MA.
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R.W. Husher was born in Copenhagen ,Denmark on 20 November, 1921 to Richard William Steiner Huusher and Gudrun Huusher, both of Norwegian nationality. The Huusher’s (whose name was shortened to ‘Husher’ upon emigration to United States, arrived by ship at the port of NYC in 1924, initially living in Brooklyn, NY, and then moving to New Haven, CT, where R.W. Husher spent his early childhood during the Great Depression.
All through his childhood, youth and as a young man, R.W. Husher was known first and foremost, as a great ‘tinkerer,’ learning about, taking apart and repairing everything from bicycles, gasoline engines, outboard motors, cars, motorboats, motorcycles (even bagpipes), and finally antique clocks, all of which he learned on his own, with very little professional instruction. His rapidly developing skills and his ability to speak to adults quickly earned him quite a reputation among the various machinists and foremen in the surrounding area who were greatly impressed by his innate curiosity about ‘how and why things work, and how to make them work better.’ As a result, he was able to get inside all the workshops to find out, and asking many questions in a manner best disposed to get answers without condescension.
R.W. Husher’s skills and great interest in all things mechanical eventually led to a scholarship to attend Yale University, earning a BS degree in mechanical engineering in 1943, just in time for the beginning of WW2. He first attempted to join the Army Air Corps, but became very ill at ‘Boot Camp’ in Florida, and was washed out of the program and labeled unfit for military service of any kind. However, his engineering skills were applied at Pratt & Whitney, designing and redesigning the engines that powered many of the fighters and bombers used during the war, as well as the production of testing equipment. Mr. Husher created a torque wrench testing system for which he obtained a patent, and this system is still in use by major aircraft companies to this day.
After the war, R.W. Husher returned to Yale on the GI Bill to earn his Master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1948 and returning to work for Pratt & Whitney, this time involved in the race to produce high performance jet and turboprop engines, but this led to a new opportunity within the newly acquired Norden company, which was involved with producing sophisticated bombsights for aircraft that now included Radar, as well as visual targeting. This move brought R.W. Husher into close contact not only with Radar systems, but sophisticated optics as well, and this became the focus for much of his working life, eventually ‘graduating’ to the first spy satellites for the US Department of Defense. His last professional position was at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, in Lexington, MA.
Mr. Husher’s greatest hobby interest involved the restoration of antique clocks, and was Gold Circle Awarded member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWWC). In 1980, he co-wrote a book on his long-time focus of hobby interest, ‘A Study of Simon Willard’s Clocks,’ by R.W. Husher & W.W. Welch, which is now the standard on the subject.
While Mr. Husher was still working for Pratt & Whitney, he met his future wife, Elsie Jean Moore, who was then working as a Draftsman/Engineering aide for the United Aircraft Advanced Research Department, who was involved in the effort to produce the first aircraft to break the speed of sound. They were married in 1950, and subsequently produced four children, Frederick, Andrea, Neil, and Eric.
Upon moving to Waban in 1954, Mr. Husher remained a resident of Waban for the rest of his life, eventually having lived in three separate homes there. He was a great supporter of the Union Church for many years, along with the Boy Scouts, the Sons of Norway, and a variety of antique clock associations. Richard was a strong and supportive husband, father, and mentor, and will be sorely missed.
Richard is survived by his three sons, Frederick, Neil, and Eric, as well as grandchildren Christopher, Erin, Nicholas, Naomi, Jeffrey, Douglas and Derek, as well as great-grandchildren Charlotte, Samson, Owen, and Opal. He is preceded in death by his wife Elsie Jean, and their daughter, Andrea.
The family asks attendees to provide donations to the Union Church in lieu of flowers.