Don Galbraith passed away on February 20th after a long but dignified journey with Alzheimer’s disease. From Philadelphia, PA, Don graduated at the top of his class from Central High School and received his BA in physics from the University of Pennsylvania. He received a full scholarship and was social chairman of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
Don was a 34-year resident of Los Altos. While in the Army, Don was assigned to Redstone Arsensal in Huntsville, Alabama, where he worked alongside groundbreaking rocket scientists. Don joined Lockheed Missiles & Space Company, Sunnyvale, in 1958. Among other projects during his 28-year career, Don headed the design of the Polaris missile guidance system; designed the Y03-A, a silent airplane used in Vietnam, and patented a lithium ion battery and received commendation from the Dept. of the Navy for his contribution to national defense. As a consultant, he continued working on commercial applications of lithium batteries.
Don’s love of aviation began in childhood. He became a licensed pilot at 26 and flew four different aircraft including his beloved Beechcraft Bonanza. He flew friends and family all over the country. As legislative chair of the Santa Clara County Airman’s Association, Don led the campaign to create the South County Airport in San Martin.
Don loved history, science, the poet A. E. Housman, puns, cats, gardening, Eichler houses, his 1967 Jaguar XKE convertible, and a dry martini, all the while enduring a love/hate relationship with the Philadelphia Phillies. He will be remembered for the gentleman he was, his keen intellect, warm sense of humor, gentle leadership skills and impeccable graciousness. He will live in the hearts of Linda, his wife of 47 years, and daughter, Diana Galbraith. Our gratitude goes to Don’s physician, Edward Plonka, MD, for his compassion, care and guidance. In Don’s memory, please consider a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association. A celebration of Don’s life will be held in May.