Roger A. Gibboni, 82, of West Chester, an aerospace engineer who helped design spy satellites during the Cold War, died Friday, Nov. 28, of kidney failure at Paoli Hospital.
For 33 years, starting in 1960, Mr. Gibboni worked in the aerospace industry at various General Electric Co. installations in the Philadelphia area. He helped pioneer national satellite reconnaissance missions during the early 1960s, including the then-top-secret Corona photographic satellite.
The program kept watch on the Soviets as a means of containing their nuclear threat, he told his family.
Endorsed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, the Corona could see behind the Iron Curtain to document missile launch sites and production facilities, according to the CIA's website.
What it found was that the Soviets had exaggerated their ability to launch missiles with nuclear warheads.
"From then on, there was an explosion of intelligence data," the CIA said on www.cia.gov/. "In fact, Corona's success was instrumental in keeping the United States back from the nuclear threshold."
Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Gibboni graduated from Overbrook High School and later Drexel Institute of Technology with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.
In 1955, he married Carolyn Cordivari, also a Philadelphia native. The two moved from Overbrook to Drexel Hill, where they reared two sons.
Roger D. Gibboni followed in his father's footsteps to Drexel University, earning bachelor's and master's of science degrees in electrical engineering. A second son, David J., earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and a master of science and doctoral degrees in chemistry from Yale University.
In addition to being a scientist, their father was a master woodworker who designed and created furniture, wall-hanging pendulum clocks, household items, and his signature bird feeders for family and friends.
"They were all different - natural wood, sometimes redwood," said Roger D. Gibboni. "I have two here, and they are actively in use, mostly by finches."
Mr. Gibboni helped build sets for the Channel 20 television programs that were broadcast from Hershey's Mill, where he and his wife moved in 1993 after his retirement from GE.
Mr. Gibboni enjoyed playing bridge with his Hershey's Mill team members and served on the board of the Hershey's Mill golf club house committee.
During the Korean War, Mr. Gibboni served in the Army Signal Corps. He was a member of SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church in West Chester and the Overbrook Italian American Democratic Club, cofounded by his father, Giulio V.
His family said Mr. Gibboni was "a devoted husband, father, and grandfather."
Along with his wife and sons, Mr. Gibboni is survived by a grandson and a granddaughter.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 5, at SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church, 1325 E. Boot Rd., West Chester. Visitation at the church runs from 10 to 11:15 a.m. Burial is private.
Donations may be made to the Paoli Hospital Foundation, 255 W. Lancaster Ave., Paoli, Pa. 19301.