Robert Dave “Bob” Small, age 93, passed away peacefully in Grossmont Hospital. He was born to Melbourne and Mabel Small in National City, CA. He grew up in both Borrego Springs, CA and National City and graduated from Sweetwater High School in 1946.
Bob wanted to join the Navy Flight Training program, but the program was shut downbefore he could be accepted. He chose to join the Army so he could qualify for the GI Bill and go to college. Upon leaving the Army, he spent two years at the Northrup Institute in the Los Angeles area before completing his education at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Unconventionally, Bob boarded a train for Purdue without having applied to or been accepted to the University. He arrived at the completion of the first week of classes and managed to talk his way in to the student body. He took Classes during the week and 8-hour tests on Saturdays in order to qualify the classes he had taken at Northrup. At the end of his first year, he had 75 units completed. He graduated in 1953 with a B.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics. One of his classmates was a young Navy pilot named Neil Armstrong.
Bob put his degree to work at General Dynamics / Convair in San Diego. He worked on projects as varied as the F-102 and F-106 delta wing interceptor fighter aircraft to the guidance system for the Lunar Excursion Module, and finally “beginning to end” of the Ground Launched Cruise Missile program. This project was instrumental and culminated in bringing an end to the Cold War which precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall.
It was at Convair that Bob met his wife of 65+ years, Sharlott. They made their home in La Mesa and raised their boys together there. Bob enjoyed dancing with Sharlott, coaching his boys in Little League, and watching them play basketball in high school. He also enjoyed golf and played into his 90’s.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Tom, and his wife Sharlott. He is survived by sister Sylvia, his sons David, Brian (Donna), Kent (Debbie), as well as his grandchildren Kyle and Brianna. No services are planned at this time. Please consider a donation to Little League Baseball or Rady Children’s Hospital in his memory.
Arrangements by featheringillmortuary.com