The Washington Post

Joseph R. ‘Ray’ Freelin, aeronautical engineer

Joseph R. “Ray” Freelin, 87, a retired aeronautical engineer who worked on satellites, space telescopes and transportation systems, died Nov. 2 at Inova Fairfax Hospital. He had a heart attack, his daughter, Judith Freelin Bassett, said.

Mr. Freelin came to Washington after World War II. During the war, he served in the Navy as a navigator on transport aircraft in the Pacific theater.

He received a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Catholic University in 1950. He then spent almost 20 years as an engineer in California and Pennsylvania before returning to the Washington area in 1970.

Mr. Freelin worked for the MITRE Corp. in McLean for more than a decade, designing satellite systems and high-speed train systems. During the final years of his career, he worked on the development of the Hubble space telescope at Swales and Associates in Greenbelt. He retired in the early 1990s.

Joseph Raymond Freelin was born in Moberly, Mo., and entered the Navy’s air cadet program at 17. He served in the Navy Reserve until 1967.

He was a McLean resident and enjoyed rebuilding historic aircraft, which he piloted across the country.

His wife of 49 years, the former Helen “Chris” Christiansen, died in 2000. Survivors include four children, Judith Freelin Bassett of Ellicott City, Gary Freelin of Chester, Va., Christine Freelin of Stevensville, Mont., and Mary K. Moore of Fairfax County; eight grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters.

— Matt Schudel

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