John McLemore Pelton

1936-??-?? to 2014-9-2
Submitted by Dan on Sat, 09/21/2019 - 06:52

John McLemore Pelton was born in 1937 to Jack and Martha Pelton. He was the oldest of two children. John grew up in Knoxville Tennessee.

John married Patricia King and had two children - Sharon Pelton and Mike Pelton.

John was well educated. He had a Masters of Science Degree from the University of Tennessee Space Institute. He was active in Trinity Lutheran Church and with the Good Samaritan Ministry of Tullahoma. He enjoyed the outdoors, hunting, boating, camping and hiking.

John was a true "rocket man" being involved in designing and testing the pieces and parts that made the United States space program possible.

"When people would say "it's not rocket science" my brother Michael and I would look at each other and smile...because when it was rocket science, it was our dad who knew how to answer the question."  - Sharon Pelton (from the obituary)

Patricia died in 2007. John remarried Kathy who survived him when he died on September 2, 2014 at the age of 78.

Personal Memories

Age 78, passed away September 2, 2014. Born in Knoxville, TN.

Preceded in death by parents, Jack and Martha Pelton, and wife, Patricia King Pelton.

Survived by wife, Kathy; daughter, Sharon Pelton, Nashville, TN; son, Mike (Joyce) Pelton, Houston, TX; sister, Susan (Fred) Brackney, Knoxville, TN; grandsons, Jonathon and Zachary Pelton, Houston, TX; niece, Meg (Tomas) Sierant, Alexander and Lindsay Sierant, Edwards, CO; nephew, Rick Brackney, Brentwood, TN; cousins, Jimmy Stewart, Jay Stewart, LeeAnne Stewart, Felicia Gibson Cox; step family, Jennifer (Trent) Bowden, Manchester, TN, Jessica (Larry) Rollins, Tullahoma, TN, Jennifer, Joseph, Larry Jr. (Summer Powell) Rollins, Katie Renee Rollins, Tullahoma, TN; and his best friend, like a brother, for 49 years, Raymond (Betty) Prescott, Knoxville, TN.

Graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters of Science from the University of Tennessee Space Institute, Tullahoma. Member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. A 49 year member of Trinity Lutheran Church where he served on the church council and evangelism committee, as well as numerous other ministries of the church. A long time, dedicated volunteer with Good Samaritan Ministry of Tullahoma. Was a descendant of "First Families of Tennessee". He was an avid hunter, camper, boater and hiker. He loved the outdoors.

He worked at Allegany Ballistics Laboratory, Rocket Center, WV; Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, AL; and for over 30 years at Arnold Engineering Development Center, Tullahoma, TN. He was a "rocket man", as his daughter once wrote.

In 1957, the Soviet Union sent a dog named Laika in a rocket ship into space, the Space Race, and the race to the moon began. My dad was a 20 something mechanical engineer who was recruited to work in that race. From the first American manned rocket into space (Alan Shepard/Gemini) through the Challenger, my father was one of many, many brilliant minds and hearts who designed and tested the pieces and parts. When people would say "it's not rocket science" my brother Michael and I would look at each other and smile...because when it was rocket science, it was our dad who knew how to answer the question.

The family thanks all of the caring souls at NHC, Tullahoma who ministered to him so kindly and compassionately in his final weeks of life.

A Memorial service will be held 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 6th at Trinity Lutheran Church, Tullahoma, TN. Pastor Alex Hoffner and Pastor David R. Wall officiating. Following the service, a reception for friends will be held in the church fellowship hall.

Memorials may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church, 705 Wilson Avenue, Tullahoma, 37388; Good Samaritan Ministry, P.O. Box 1705, Tullahoma, 37388; or The Pat Summitt Foundation, ET Foundation, 625 Market Street, Knoxville, TN 37902.

Arrangements by UT Medical Science Hospital.

Published in The Tennessean on Sept. 5, 2014

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