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Drexel University Remembers Former Department Head, Richard “Dick” Mortimer

July 10, 2013

Richard “Dick” Mortimer, former professor and department head of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, and the very first person to ever receive a Ph.D. at Drexel University, passed away on July 2, 2013. Dick had a long and rich history with Drexel University as a student, a teacher, and later, a chairman.

Services were on Saturday, July 6, 2013, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Peter's Church, Great Valley, PA. There will be no viewing and the burial will be at the church immediately after the services.

Dick first enrolled at Penn State, but left after about a year to serve in the United States Army. He enrolled at Drexel University on the GI Bill and received his Ph.D. from Drexel in 1967 in Applied Mechanics. He was the first doctorate student at Drexel University.

His two co-ops were at NASA where he enjoyed his work and learned a lot about funding for research; which served him well when he returned to Drexel to accept a teaching position. Research grants from NASA and the Department of Defense allowed him to build a facility at the Hess Laboratory. There Dick studied explosives and many other things. His focus was on how to control the shock waves that occurred when a manned space capsule was blasted away from the booster rocket. Dick eventually rose to department chair of mechanical and mechanics engineering.

Dick was a teacher to all three Drexel Engineering students who went on to become astronauts and he remained close with two of them, returning to Drexel for Engineer’s Week in 2012 to see one of those former students, astronaut Chris Ferguson. He had a truly rewarding career, both as teacher and researcher, spending most of his adult life within the Drexel University community.

Dick is survived by his wife, Doris, three children, and many grandchildren.

Drexel will be celebrating the life of Dick at a Memorial Service to be held in the Fall. Details will be forthcoming.