Paul K. Arthur died on January 31, 2014. I met Admiral Arthur in 1994 during the first strategic planning meeting for New Mexico Space Grant. At his funeral on Saturday, February 8, I learned Paul enlisted in the Navy at the rank of Seaman. He rose through the enlisted ranks, through 13 separate ranks to rise to the rank of Rear Admiral. Paul was a humble man, a graduate of Purdue in Electrical Engineering; and when he retired in 2004 after 55 years of service, he had attained the highest civilian position at WSMR, Technical Director and Deputy to the Commanding General.
I once heard heaven described as certainty. Paul’s faith in God, his country, his family and friends were among the values at the core his certainty. Yet, the fast car, Four Freshman loving, rocket man is more than the 21st Century’s definition of “A Good Man”. He was a great man who required no followers but had many. I followed because I trusted him. He did not believe in fear as a tactic or a strategy. Kindness, softness, gentility defined his life style.
Remember Len Sugerman? Paul and Len were friends. They worked together on the WSMR Museum and both were tireless supporters of its Historical Foundation. They also worked on the spaceport together for years to help get the Missile Range, the state, and the university working together to understand how this facility would be beneficial to the state and the nation. They were unique souls in our midst. I know why I needed them in my life. They led by example. I am a doer. They both got that and together we worked on getting students access to space, developing students and NMSU faculty aerospace capability in the state.
In the world of science and technology, sometimes the culture supports personal remoteness. As a new entrant to the club of scientists, I needed quality time with scientists, engineers, technologists and researchers. Paul helped with the language of their world, and demonstrated patience countless times. As I practiced and stumbled, both Len and Paul would nurture my striving for excellence. They knew how to bring out the frustration and channel it into clarity. Both never looked at my gender, never discounted or questioned my direction taken on later in life. Genius was never a requirement, only willingness. Perseverance was key. Both men were ill later in life, yet they never quit pushing themselves. Paul’s wife Joy is a superior researcher. Working with women as equals was another unique quality of his.
Up until he died, Paul and I worked on a project for the FAA with a team of researchers to create a road map for spaceport operations, a framework. Spaceport America, one of only eight licensed spaceports, is a project fraught with questions. What kinds of jobs will it create, how can we get ready, what courses should students take? As we evolved the framework, the team kept these questions in mind. Getting the new entrants into the field well educated from the beginning required we learn from the best. There are five federal launch ranges. White Sands Missile Range is a test range. This is where our government tests its newest missiles and their technologies. When we began this research task, Paul helped define the major components of what became the framework for spaceport operations. There ten large categories, and over one hundred and thirty sub-categories that comprise the body of knowledge, the Framework for Spaceport Operations.
New Mexico State University is the repository for the national data base for this framework. Within the framework there are thousands of pages of documents and web links to documents. Organizing over seventy years of expertise in operating federal ranges and launch facilities, including Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center, will help guide future spaceport training and operations. Paul helped us gain access the Range Commanders Council’s operations sub-group. He helped us get interviews with the Range Commanders including executive directors of the federal ranges. We interviewed 100% of the spaceport executive directors for this study. You may access the framework at http://www.coe-cst.org/research.html click on Task 220. Should you want to access the database of documents, please contact my office for instructions.
His work, our work, will continue. Paul never lost confidence in people, I believe it is because he did not lose confidence in himself. His certainty was an inside daily journey. Now let the Four Freshmen sing him back home.