LOIS DICKSON RICE, TRAILBLAZING EXECUTIVE BEHIND PELL GRANTS
Lois Dickson Rice, a janitor’s daughter who became a trailblazing corporate executive and helped persuade Congress to provide federal subsidies, known as Pell grants, to tens of millions of needy college students, died on Jan. 4 in Washington. She was 83.
The cause was pneumonia and cancer, her daughter, Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser to President Obama, said.
In the business world, Lois Rice was a director on several major company boards, including those of Firestone, McGraw-Hill and the Control Data Corporation, the supercomputer manufacturer. She was also a senior vice president of Control Data.
She joined the College Entrance Examination Board (now known as the College Board) in 1959. As an executive there, she promoted and helped shape the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant Program, whose chief sponsor was Senator Claiborne Pell, Democrat of Rhode Island.
The program, begun in 1972, awards grants rather than loans, mostly to undergraduates, on the basis of financial need. (A grant is designed to fill the gap between the cost of college and the family’s estimated contribution. This academic year, the maximum grant is $5,815.)
Mr. Pell died in 2009. His grandson Clay Pell IV, a former deputy assistant secretary of the Education Department, said in a statement after Ms. Rice’s death, “This program was not inevitable, and it would not have come into existence without her, nor survived in the decades since without her passionate advocacy.”
Lois Anne Dickson was born on Feb. 28, 1933, in Portland, Me., the daughter of David Augustus Dickson and the former Mary Daly. Her father was a janitor at a music store; her mother was a maid. Both were Jamaican immigrants who sent all five of their children to college.
She graduated in 1954 from Radcliffe College, where she majored in history and literature and was president of the student body.
Her marriage to Emmett J. Rice, an economist and a governor of the Federal Reserve, ended in divorce. In addition to her daughter, from that marriage, she is survived by a son, E. John Rice Jr., the chief executive of Management Leadership for Tomorrow; four stepchildren; and four grandchildren. Dr. Rice died in 2011.
Ms. Rice later married Alfred B. Fitt, general counsel of the Congressional Budget Office and of the Army. He died in 1992.
Since 1991, Ms. Rice had been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington, researching higher-education policy and promoting racial diversity. Last June, she and Susan Rice, a former Brookings senior fellow, were honored as the only mother-daughter research duo in the think tank’s history.
“Lois was a giant in the field of education,” Arne Duncan, the former secretary of education, said in a statement. “For so many of us, she was a hero, a role model and an example of what true service is all about. She helped create a pathway to college for literally millions of low-income and first-generation college goers, changing the trajectories of their families forever.”
EUGENE CERNAN, LAST HUMAN TO WALK ON MOON
Eugene A. Cernan, the commander of the Apollo 17 lunar-landing mission in 1972 and the last human to walk on the moon, died on Monday in Houston. He was 82.
His death was announced by NASA.
A ferocious competitor with a test pilot’s reckless streak, Mr. Cernan (pronounced SIR-nun) rocketed into space three times, was the second American to drift weightless around the world on a tether, went to the moon twice and shattered aerospace records on the Earth and the moon.
He also slid down a banister on a visit to the White House and once crashed a helicopter in the Atlantic while chasing a dolphin. Skimming the lunar surface in a rehearsal for the first manned landing, he erupted with salty language heard by millions when his craft briefly spun out of control.
But he made spacewalks and romps over the lunar surface look routine, and in a way they were.
Three and a half years after Neil A. Armstrong took mankind’s first step onto the lunar surface in 1969, Mr. Cernan, a Navy captain and one of the nation’s most experienced astronauts, landed with a geologist-astronaut near the Sea of Serenity in the final chapter of the Apollo program, America’s audacious venture to fulfill President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 pledge to put Americans on the moon.
Captain Cernan was the last of 12 Americans to set foot on the moon in six Apollo landings. Two other missions were lunar orbital test runs, and Apollo 13 was an aborted landing after a malfunction. While Apollo 17 conveyed the drama of televised moonwalks, the awesome historicity of the Armstrong flight had faded, along with public interest in lunar missions that by 1972 had begun to seem repetitive.
Still, his mission was a technological triumph. While Ronald E. Evans, a Navy commander, piloted a command ship in lunar orbit, Captain Cernan and Harrison H. Schmitt, the first scientist to go to the moon, descended to the virtually airless, soundless surface in a four-legged lander that settled in a narrow valley of boulders and craters. After a 250,000-mile voyage from Earth, they put down 300 feet from their target.
“The Challenger has landed,” Captain Cernan announced in a broadcast to the world the Apollo crew saw hanging in the sky. “I’d like to dedicate the first step of Apollo 17 to all those who made it possible.”
As color video pictures streamed across the gulf of space, the astronauts collected bluish-gray and tan rocks four billion years old, drilled eight-foot heat-probe holes and journeyed to a 7,000-foot mountain called the South Massif and to the edge of a deep crater. There they found a fumarole, an ancient vent for volcanic gases, and collected strange orange and red soil samples.
On three rover excursions that took them 21 miles to craters, rock slides and mountain walls, and in 22 hours of moonwalks, they collected 250 pounds of rocks and soil to carry home and left experiments that delivered data for years. The captain also scratched his daughter’s initials — TDC, for Teresa Dawn Cernan — in the lunar dust, a talisman that might last eons on a lifeless world.
The mission completed, the captain took his last steps on the lunar surface and spoke for posterity.
“America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow,” he said in words slightly garbled on recordings. “And as we leave the moon and Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came, and, God willing, we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.”
Dr. Schmitt climbed into the lander, followed by Captain Cernan. With a graceless farewell from the captain — “Let’s get this mother out of here” — the two astronauts blasted off and rejoined the orbiting command module. The trip back to Earth and the splashdown in the South Pacific, on Dec. 19, 1972, went like clockwork.
In the decades since the Apollo program, the wonder of America’s early achievements in space has been overtaken by space shuttles, international space stations, unmanned explorations of the solar system’s outer worlds and the possibility of a landing by humans on Mars.
Captain Cernan’s name has sometimes been linked with Armstrong’s as the first and last humans to walk on the moon. But with budget constraints and other worlds beckoning, his lofty hopes for another generation to return have not been realized. No human has set foot on the moon in the 44 years since his mission, and there are no plans to return.
Eugene Andrew Cernan was born in Chicago on March 14, 1934, to Andrew Cernan, a supervisor at a naval installation, and the former Rose Cihlar.
He graduated from Proviso Township High School in Maywood, Ill., in 1952, and received an electrical engineering degree from Purdue in 1956 and a master’s in aeronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., in 1963. As a naval aviator, he logged 5,000 hours of flying time and 200 landings on aircraft carriers.
Captain Cernan became a NASA astronaut in 1963. In his first spaceflight, Gemini 9 in 1966, he joined Col. Thomas Stafford of the Air Force on a three-day orbital mission testing rendezvous and docking procedures. He also circled the world twice as a tethered spacewalker. At 32, he was the youngest American to go into space.
His second spaceflight, with Colonel Stafford and Cmdr. John W. Young of the Navy in 1969, was Apollo 10, the final rehearsal for Apollo 11, which months later landed Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. The eight-day Apollo 10 trip included a Cernan-Stafford descent in a lunar module to within eight nautical miles of the surface. It did everything but land. It also photographed landing sites and sent back the first live color television pictures from the moon.
Captain Cernan’s final spaceflight, the capstone of the Apollo series, did not generate the worldwide excitement of the Armstrong-Aldrin adventure. But it did set records: the longest lunar landing flight (nearly 302 hours) and the longest lunar surface extravehicular activities (22 hours and 6 minutes). Captain Cernan also set a career record of 566 hours in space, 73 of them on the moon’s surface.
After Apollo 17, Captain Cernan helped develop the United States-Soviet project Apollo-Soyuz. In 1976, he retired from the Navy and NASA and became an executive of Coral Petroleum in Houston. He founded the Cernan Corporation, an energy and aerospace consultant, in 1981 and was chairman of the Johnson Engineering Corporation from 1994 to 2000.
Mr. Cernan, who lived in Piney Point, a suburb of Houston, contributed to ABC’s coverage of space-related news; narrated and was featured in documentaries; and wrote (with Don Davis) an autobiography, “The Last Man on the Moon,” published in 1999.
In 2010 congressional testimony, he and Armstrong, who died in 2012, criticized President Obama’s plan to cancel NASA’s program to send astronauts back to the moon and later to Mars and to invest in private companies for new space technologies. Mr. Cernan called the budgetary decision a “slide to mediocrity” and “a blueprint for a mission to nowhere.”
An obituary on Tuesday about Eugene A. Cernan, the last person to walk on the moon, erroneously attributed a distinction to him. When he first went into space, in 1966, he was the youngest American to do so, not the youngest man. (Mr. Cernan was 32 at the time. A number of Soviet cosmonauts had preceded him in space at earlier ages; Gherman Titov, who was 25 when he orbited the earth in 1961, was the youngest.) The obituary also referred incorrectly to the live television pictures sent by Apollo 10, Mr. Cernan’s second spaceflight, in 1969. They were the first color pictures from the moon — not the first pictures of any kind. (Those had been sent by Apollo 8 in December 1968.)