Published: May 7, 2013 10:00:00 AM
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Aerospace pioneer Charles E. “Buddy” Davis passed away Thursday, May 2, at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., from unexpected medical complications. He was a resident of Laguna Niguel, Calif., and was 80 years old.
Davis was born in Bessemer, Ala., and grew up in Birmingham and Mobile. He served in the Air Force for four years before attending Auburn University, where he graduated in 1959 with a degree in electrical engineering. Following his academic career, Davis went to work for Douglas Aircraft, which later merged with McDonnell Aircraft to form McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing). Although his academic work was in electrical engineering, he spent his more than four-decades-long career primarily in the aerospace industry.
An innovator and visionary, Davis has made groundbreaking contributions to the fields of electrical and aeronautical engineering. He was a member of the launch team for the Thor rocket program, which led to a pivotal role in the Apollo effort as the U.S. embarked upon its quest to put a man on the moon for the first time. In addition, he also contributed to the shuttle and space station programs. His design contributions are still evident in the assembly, transport, and launch pad systems used in the space program today.
Davis was honored for his contributions to the engineering profession in 2011, when he was named to the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. At Auburn University, he is known as well for his commitment to the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and his leadership gift—the third-largest individual gift in the history of the college—that will benefit generations of Auburn students to come. In 2007, the Auburn University Board of Trustees named the Aerospace Engineering Building to honor Davis and his family as the Charles E. Davis Aerospace Engineering Hall.