In Memory of George Dosa (1922-2019)

by Osvaldo Tarditti, President of the Reaction Research Society (RRS) and Dave Nordling, Secretary of the RRS


It is with great sorrow that we announce the death of our beloved friend, George Dosa. He passed away at his home on Sunday, August 25, 2019 at 6:15am. He was 96 years old.

George was a long-time member of the RRS and a friend to everyone he met. His personality and knowledge will be missed greatly. But even though he is no longer with us, he is still a source of inspiration to continue the effort to carry the Society forward.

George Dosa was born on November 12, 1922, in Cleveland, Ohio. He moved to Los Angeles, California, when he was 15. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 and became an Aviation Metalsmith, 3rd Class. He was shipped out to Guam and later to mainland China in Shanghai where he had his own metal shop until the US Navy left China before the Communist Revolution in 1949.

George Dosa serving in the U.S. Navy in World War 2

Returning to the US, he enrolled in the Northrop Aero Nautical Institute then later worked for Aerojet, Gilfillan, Harvey Aluminum, and then NCR. He took night classes at the University of Southern California in engineering and ultimately worked at TRW until his retirement in 1987.

George joined the RRS sometime in the 1950’s at the encouragement of B.J. Humphreys, another giant in amateur rocketry. George’s association with the RRS would be one of his great joys throughout his life.

George Dosa makes a presentation on rocketry at TRW in the 1960’s

George Dosa was the first licensed pyrotechnic operator in rocketry in the state of California. He made large contributions to the rules and regulations governing amateur rocketry with the Office of the Fire Marshal in the state of California (CALFIRE). Although the RRS was founded in Glendale in the shadow of what would become the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the RRS still holds its monthly meetings in Gardena, because of George. It was George that came to the Gardena Community Center (now called the Ken Nakaoka Community Center) and found our meeting place which has served us for decades and to this very day.

George never held office in the RRS executive council, instead chose to mentor, teach and research issues for the society. The office of the Director of Research in the RRS was created specifically for George Dosa. This was a role he held for many years.

He loved being out at the RRS’s testing site, the Mojave Test Area (MTA), and the metal quonset hut still in use today bears his name. George was passionate about taking data in every experiment and documented a lot of his work. A lot of George’s work survives in the RRS archives which have many documents still in need of digital conversion.

George Dosa and Marianne Butterfield at the RRS MTA
Richard Butterfield and George Dosa at the RRS MTA in 1987
George Dosa (far right) in his characteristic hat at the 50th anniversary symposium of the RRS in 1993.
George Dosa at the 2017 RRS symposium.

George’s love for the society was shown in the many people he mentored and influenced. The RRS is stronger thanks to his decades of patient dedication to amateur rocketry.

George Dosa in a recent undated photo.

The RRS, along with George’s extended family, said goodbye to George on Friday, September 6, 2019 in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. He was given US Navy honors and will be remembered forever by a grateful nation for his service. Many members of the RRS were present to pay their respects and many more were there in spirit and have sent their condolences to the family.

George Dosa being laid to rest with US Navy present
from left to right: Jim Gross, Larry Hoffing, Chris Lujan, Osvaldo Tarditti, Frank Miuccio, George Garboden, David Crisalli, Dave Nordling, John Mariano, John Krell, Chip Bassett

EDITOR’S NOTE: Further expansion of this article will be done as others in the society wish to share their stories of George and his considerable influence on many people in amateur rocketry. The RRS is also grateful to the Dosa family for their help with this article.

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