YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

PASSINGS: Dyer Brainerd Holmes, T.S. Cook, Joel Schaeffer

Dyer Brainerd Holmes, NASA's manned space flight director in early 1960s, dies at 91; T.S. Cook, coauthor of 'China Syndrome,' dies at 65; Joel Schaeffer, longtime Reseda High football coach, dies at 70

January 15, 2013
  • During Dyer Brainerd Holmes' time at NASA, John Glenn became the first U.S. astronaut in orbit. Holmes also helped lay the groundwork for the Apollo program and America’s ambitious venture to the moon.
During Dyer Brainerd Holmes' time at NASA, John Glenn became the first… (File photo )

Dyer Brainerd Holmes

NASA manned space flight director

Dyer Brainerd Holmes, 91, director of manned space flight for NASA when Americans were making their early forays into space in the early 1960s, died Friday at a hospital in Memphis, Tenn., of complications from pneumonia, said his stepson Pierce Ledbetter.

Holmes joined NASA as director of manned space flight in October 1961 and held the position until June 1963, according to the NASA History Office.

During his time at NASA, John Glenn became the first U.S. astronaut in orbit Feb. 20, 1962, on Mercury-Atlas 6. Scott Carpenter followed Glenn by riding Mercury-Atlas 7 into space May 24 of the same year.

Holmes also helped lay the groundwork for the Apollo program and America's ambitious venture to the moon.

NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs said Holmes took over the Office of Manned Space Flight for NASA during a critical time for the agency.

"NASA was still relatively young and senior administrators wanted to beef up leadership and management experience at headquarters in Washington," Jacobs said in an emailed statement. "Holmes' expertise in electrical engineering and management was seen as essential to not only study problems but to offer solutions as NASA began to focus its attention on the Apollo program and the race to the moon."

After leaving NASA, Holmes joined Raytheon Co. as a director. He was later named president of Raytheon, which produced radar and communications systems as well as the Sparrow, Patriot and Sidewinder missiles. He retired in 1986.

Before joining NASA, Holmes worked for Western Electric, Bell Telephone Laboratories and the Radio Corp. of America. With RCA, he helped develop the United States' Ballistic Missile Early Warning System.

Holmes was born May 24, 1921, in New York. He received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1943 from Cornell University. As an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve, he completed graduate studies in radar at both MIT and Bowdoin College.

T.S. Cook

Coauthor of 'China Syndrome'

T.S. Cook, 65, an Oscar-nominated film and television writer best known for coauthoring the 1979 nuclear accident thriller "The China Syndrome," died Jan. 5 of cancer at his Hollywood home, said his wife Monique de Varennes.

"The China Syndrome," which details the story of a fictional near-meltdown at a Southern California nuclear reactor, raised questions about the safety of nuclear power long before the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine and the catastrophic 2011 earthquake and tsunami at the nuclear plant near Fukushima, Japan.

An immediate box office and critical success, "The China Syndrome," which starred Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas, gained further attention when its release was followed less than two weeks later by a real-life accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania. A Newsweek reviewer called the film "a rare phenomenon — a piece of popular entertainment that immediately foreshadows a major news event and then helps explain it."

Cook co-wrote the film with Mike Gray and James Bridges, who also directed it, and the three men shared Oscar nominations for best original screenplay. The work won them top screenplay honors from the Writers Guild of America, which also honored Cook in 1990 for the nuclear-themed television play "Nightbreaker."

Born Aug. 25, 1947, in Cleveland, Thomas Stephen Cook was the son of Horace, a business executive, and Betty Cook, a homemaker. He earned a bachelor's degree from Denison University in Iowa in 1965 and a master of fine arts from the University of Iowa in 1973. In 1975, he married de Varennes and the couple had two children.

Cook, who was also a producer and playwright, wrote many television movies, including "High Noon," an update of the classic western; "Forgotten Sins," which concerned child sexual abuse; and "Lucy," about the loving yet tumultuous relationship between stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. He also co-wrote a story on which the HBO film "The Tuskegee Airmen" was based.

In recent years, Cook had turned to playwriting, including 2008's "Ravensridge," which centered on the aftermath of a labor lockout at a U.S. steel mill. He also taught play- and screenwriting in classes that included workshops for aspiring Muslim writers in a Los Angeles program run by the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Joel Schaeffer

Longtime Reseda High football coach

Joel Schaeffer, 70, who coached football at Reseda High for 23 years and taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 40, died Sunday at his home in Canoga Park from complications of cancer, according to a school official.

Schaeffer's teams won a City Section 2-A championship in 1986 and a 3-A title in 1995. He retired from coaching after the 2000 season, and the school named its field after him.

The founder of Reseda's police academy magnet program, Schaeffer retired from teaching physical education in 2005.

A San Fernando Valley native, Schaeffer was a member of Cleveland High's first graduating class in 1960. He played football at Pierce College and what is now Cal State Northridge, where he started at center and linebacker. He was inducted into Northridge's athletic hall of fame in 2001.

Times staff and wire reports

Los Angeles Times Articles