Donald Richard McCoy devoted his adult life to designing and constructing distant early warning systems (radars) around the world to protect the U.S.
Surrounded by loving family members, Mr. McCoy passed away in Coronado on March 24, 2012 at the age of 91, after a short cancer-related illness.
Mr. McCoy began his long and productive life on Aug. 30, 1920 in Burkburnett, Texas, the third of five children born to Francis and Marie McCoy. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from East High School in 1938, where he lettered in track and gymnastics.
He began working at the Felber Cracker Factory, where he met the love of his life, Jeanne Clark. They married on July 4, 1941 at Miller Avenue Evangelical and Lutheran Church. On June 14, 1942, they welcomed their only child, Jacquelyn Ann McCoy.
Early in WWII, Mr. McCoy began taking electrical engineering classes offered by the US Army and eventually joined the US Army Signal Corps, reaching the rank of 2nd lieutenant. After the war, he used the GI Bill to attend Ohio State University, receiving a BSEE in 1951 (minoring in philosophy) and a Master of Science in electromagnetic theory in 1956. As a graduate student, he was a research associate in the university’s Radar Antenna Laboratory, receiving his first patent for a Tunable Cavity Antenna in 1954.
In college, he also served as captain of the OSU gymnastics team and became a member of the Varsity “O” Club, as well as being elected to Sigma Xi Honorary Fraternity.
After college, Mr. McCoy became a senior engineer for antenna systems at General Electric in Liverpool, N.Y. During his 28 years with the company, he traveled the world designing and constructing radar defense systems, including trips to Thule, Trinidad, Turkey, Alaska and Kwajalein Islands.
Mr. McCoy loved to travel in his personal life as well. A true Renaissance man, he traveled annually to Kennebunkport, Maine to study oil painting with Roger Deering, creating oil paintings of the “rocky bound coast of Maine.” In 1975, the McCoys traveled to England, touring the countryside on bicycles. In their 70s, they rode motorcycles through Italy and the Swiss Alps.
Sports played a major role in Mr. McCoy’s life. After being diagnosed with heart failure in the ‘70s, he began running marathons. He and his wife were huge Lakers fans and he enjoyed watching sports on TV. He reveled in his time on the golf course with good friends. He belonged to the Elfun Society and the Liverpool Yacht Club. He loved animals, including rescuing a squirrel as a pet for his daughter and owning a long string of beloved dogs.
Mr. McCoy retired from G.E. in 1983, moved to La Costa, then Lake San Marcos, Calif. He remained active in the radar field for six more years, first for Norden Systems and later with TRW before becoming a consultant.
In 2008, he lost his dear wife of 67 years to lung cancer. Five months later he suffered a stroke, prompting him to move in with his daughter Jacqueline and son-in-law Jim Lare in Coronado, Calif.
Faith also played large part in his life. The McCoys began a church while at Ohio State University, were members of the Liverpool First United Methodist Church (where he ushered) and later worshipped at Meadowlark Community Church in San Marcos. In Coronado, he attended Christ Episcopal Church.
Mr. McCoy is survived by his beloved daughter Jacquelyn Ann McCoy and her husband, Jim Lare, both of Coronado; granddaughter Patricia Buckley, her husband Mike and three children of La Mesa; granddaughter Michelle and her husband Steven and their three children of Santa Cruz; granddaughter Jennifer Lare of Los Angeles; brother Jimmy McCoy and sister Helen McCoy Reed of Columbus, Ohio.
A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4, at Christ Episcopal Church at the corner of 9th and C in Coronado. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Sharp HospiceCare, 8881 Fletcher Parkway, Suite 336, La Mesa, CA, 91942.