Wylie “Buddy” McMillan completed his 89th orbit around the sun on Feb. 18, 2018. He was born in Menard, Texas, grew up in various Texas towns, and graduated from Balmorhea High School in 1947. His next four years were aboard U.S. Navy minesweepers as a sonar man in the Korean Conflict, and he was discharged as a first class petty officer in 1952.
He returned to Alpine, Texas, graduating from Sul Ross State University with a Bachelor of Science degree. With his Navel background in sonar and electronics, he was hired as an electronic engineer at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, and then later White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. As range manager, he gained outstanding recognition for improvement in range safety, troubleshooting, and launch pad reliability.
In 1964, he was recruited by NASA to assist in establishing the mission control center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, for America’s budding Gemini and Apollo space programs. Three years later, he transferred to the tracking station at Guaymas, Mexico, as assistant director. His next assignment, and most memorable, was for nine years at the tracking station in Bermuda as assistant director and then director. His last year at NASA was at Goddard Space Flight center in Greenbelt, Maryland, where he was instrumental in implementing the newly launched global positioning satellite system.
Upon retirement in 1979, he moved back to Alpine going to work for his wife as a cowboy and continue their many life’s adventures. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Prudella Moore; two daughters, Vickie Wilson (Dave Wilson), and Vee Zent (Gary Zent); three grandchildren, Erica Zent (Brad Butler), Ryan Zent (Emma Covington), and Tyler Wilson.
A private, family celebration will be held at a later date. Memorial donations may be made to your favorite charity. The only thing Buddy can’t fix is our broken hearts. We’ll miss him greatly.