Kermit George Pratt ’39

PrattKermit George Pratt, 92, of Newport News, died Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013.

He was born Sept.12, 1921, in Windsor, Vermont, the son of George Henry Pratt and Mary Patterson Pratt of Windsor, Vermont. Survivors include his son and daughter-in-law, Colin and Ann Pratt of Newport News; his daughter, Kay-Lyn Pratt Merritt of Ashland; five grandchildren, Lindsay Zanol (Max) of Gloucester Point, Adam Pratt of Henrico, Robin Merritt Liesfeld (Kenny) of Montpelier, Rebecca Merritt of Ashland, Catherine Merritt Blanche (Bradley) of Glen Allen; and three great grandchildren, Luca and Bella Liesfeld of Montpelier, and Abel Blanche of Glen Allen. He was predeceased by his wife of 57 years, Marilyn, who died in October, 2000.

He was an aeronautical engineer who, in 1943, graduated from Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute and married Marilyn Burrill of Windsor, Vermont. Later that year, they moved to Hampton, where he worked at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which later became the NASA/Langley Research Center. He was the originator of the Pratt Formula for the determination of gust loads in aircraft and he also worked on space vehicle design and on space shuttle support. He counted as two high points of his life seeing Charles Lindbergh from a vantage point on his father’s shoulders as a six-year-old in 1927 and meeting Orville Wright at NACA at the end of World War II. He retired from Langley in 1978.

For many years (1965 to 1972), he was Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 158 in Newport News, where he was engaged in what he called “backwoods engineering.” In 2012, he moved from his home to an apartment at The Hidenwood Assisted Living.

He spent his last week being comfortably cared for by Legacy Home for Hospice and Support at the Chamberlain Hotel at Old Point Comfort overlooking Hampton Roads, where, as a young engineer in the 40’s, he and Marilyn would take the ferry to begin their many trips home to Vermont.

Many thanks go to the staff of the Hidenwood, Gentiva Hospice, and the kind caretakers at Legacy Home for Hospice and Support.

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