Present and former directors of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center joined together March 7 to reflect on a life of national service by the late Lee R. Scherer, who served as director of the center from late 1971 through early 1975.
Current center director David McBride and former director Ken Szalai reflected on Scherer’s life and career with members of Scherer’s family who gathered at the center for the informal remembrance activities. Scherer died on May 7, 2011 at the age of 92.
An honors graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1942, Scherer went on to a 25-year career in the U.S. Navy, flying F6F Hellcat fighter planes during World War II and flight- testing helicopters later. After obtaining aeronautical engineering degrees, Scherer first came to NASA in 1962 while still on active duty as a captain in the Navy. After being employed in various managerial capacities with the Apollo program at NASA Headquarters, Scherer was appointed director of the Flight Research Center on Oct. 11, 1971, succeeding Paul Bikle and interim acting director De Beeler.
Scherer served as center director for a little over three years until he was selected to lead NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Jan. 19, 1975. Scherer oversaw Kennedy’s involvement in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Program in 1975 and that center’s build-up for the Space Shuttle Program over the following four years. He was appointed associate administrator for external relations at NASA Headquarters in 1979, a position he held until his retirement from NASA.