John David Courtney
John David Courtney
  • September 27, 1930 - May 7, 2017
  • Houston, Texas

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John David Courtney passed away peacefully at home in Houston, Texas on the morning of May 7, 2017 at the age of 86. He was known for his lively stories, caring nature and his lighthearted banter. John lived life with a combination of strength, laughter, hard work, integrity, patience and kindness. He always took care of others around him and was often the life of the party. He was born to J.W. and Agnes Mason Courtney on September 27, 1930 in Atchison, Kansas. He graduated with honors from Georgia Tech University, with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. His time at Georgia Tech would be put on hold to serve his country in the Army during the Korean War as a Corporal. After graduating in 1956 he began working for North American Co. and then General Electric as a program manager. His work sent him all over the world and John lived in over 10 different states throughout his career. In 1963 he began his tenured career at the Lockheed Corporation in Sunnyvale, California. There he would go on to lead top aerospace programs with over 600 employees. He was instrumental in the development of America's missile launching systems and the first satellites sent into orbit, some of which are still used today. His most recognizable work was on the Hubble Space Telescope and the Enterprise shuttle program.
John met the love of his life, Vera Delores Marie Collins, when visiting his sister Norma in Tennessee at the local pool. He was just 17, she was 14. After the summer they would go their separate ways but kept in touch. They reconnected after he graduated college 1956 and were engaged to be married in April of 1957. However John began a new program that would send him out of state. He called his bride to be and they decided to marry before he started the program. Delores flew out on a Friday and they were married the next day, Saturday, February 2, 1957. The first years of their marriage were filled with moves and promotions for John but they soon settled down in northern California. There they joyfully welcomed their four beautiful children, three daughters and a son. John traveled and worked hard all throughout his career, and claimed to have over one million miles in the air, but he always had time for his wife and children. In the summer of 1976 he was promoted and moved his family to Missouri City, Texas. After a long and rewarding career, John retired from Lockheed Martin in 1997. Outside of work John enjoyed fishing, was an avid golfer along with his wife, traveling, and hosting legendary parties. In January 2000, his bride of almost 43 years, Delores lost her battle with cancer and he was by her side. Over the past few years, John greatly enjoyed his weekly Sunday breakfasts with his daughter Lenith and watching golf with his son. He also treasured his daily "happy hours" with the residents at Brookdale.
John's family takes comfort in the fact he is reunited with those he joins in Heaven; his wife and love of his life Delores, his parents and his sister Norma, brother-in-law Roy, and nephews Allen and Roy Jr. and many close relatives and dear friends. He is survived by his four children: Glonda Ann Courtney and her partner Carol Carson of Escondido, CA, Ardith Marie Courtney of Laguna Beach, CA, Lenith Mason Oppelt and John David Courtney, Jr., both of Houston, TX. John is also survived by five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, who affectionately called him Papa: Lauren Frazier and her husband Bryan Frazier and their children Austin and Courtney, Brennen Oppelt and Mason Oppelt; John David Courtney, III and Taylor Courtney.
On the afternoon of May 16, 2017, a celebration of life will be held at Brookdale Memorial City Retirement Community, 11900 Barryknoll Lane in the Community Room from 4:30 to 6:30pm.
Flowers may be sent to Brookdale Memorial City Retirement Community, 11900 Barryknoll Lane, Houston, Texas 77024.
He will be laid to rest next to his wife in a private graveside service in St. Helena, CA on July 8, 2017.