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Hugh A. Turnbull; NASA official

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Friday, October 8, 2010; 8:47 PM

Hugh A. Turnbull, 93, who helped oversee satellite-tracking stations for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt and who also was an amateur radio expert, died Sept. 14 at Crofton Care and Rehabilitation Center in Anne Arundel County. He had pneumonia.

Mr. Turnbull worked for the federal government for 37 years and was a NASA employee for 16 years. At Goddard, Mr. Turnbull was responsible for administering and technically supporting its global data-gathering network. In his work with satellite-tracking stations, he was often called on to assist NASA stations overseas. He retired in 1998.

Aside from his government service, Mr. Turnbull had a passion for radio. Before and after World War II, he worked with the Radio Intelligence Division of the Federal Communications Commission in New York. He moved to College Park in 1955 and worked as a broadcast engineer with Voice of America until joining NASA in 1961.

Over the years, Mr. Turnbull was vice president of the American Radio Relay League, president of the Goddard Space Flight Center Amateur Radio Club and a fellow of the Radio Club of America. His call sign was W3ABC.

In the 1990s, he was honored by the Smithsonian Institution for his years of volunteer service with NN3SI, the National Museum of American History's amateur radio station.

Hugh Alexander Turnbull was a native of Rahway, N.J. He was a 1938 graduate of Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and received a master's degree in physics from West Virginia University in 1940. He was a Navy veteran of World War II.

His wife, the former Mary E. "Betty" Spillane, died in 2006. Survivors include two children, Mark Turnbull of Philadelphia and Karen Shangraw of Crofton; and two grandsons.

- Megan Buerger


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