John Joseph Eslinger, age 98 and fondly known to many as “Charm,” died peacefully in his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on November 18, 2018. Loving father of Kathleen (Daniel) Herr and Linda (Brian) Lewotsky; loving grandfather to Nicholaus (Mollie) Herr, Matthew (Alisa) Herr, Rebecca (Richard) Dismuke, Laura Herr, Sarah Rose (A.J.) Barragan, and Sage Lewotsky; great-grandfather to Calvin Herr, Wesley Herr, Aimee Dismuke, and Anna Dismuke; and special uncle to Ellen Eslinger (deceased), Mary Bauer, Maureen Dahlen, John Eslinger, Patricia Pappageorge, Thomas Eslinger, and Moira Morris.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Jeanne O’Hearne Eslinger, and by his brother, Norman Francis Eslinger.
John was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 11, 1920 to John and Adeline Eslinger. He graduated from St. Phillip’s Basilica High School in Chicago, and in 1950, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering (Aeronautical Option) at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He received his master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1957.
Throughout his life, John was passionate about all aspects of flight and received his private pilot’s license at age 19. In 1942, he began his professional career by building and designing aircraft at Consolidated Aircraft in San Diego, California. He then honorably served as First Lieutenant in the U.S. Infantry during WWII. The major focus of his life’s work was on space flight, as an engineer for North American Rockwell on both the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. In addition to his work, John was an avid sailor, private small aircraft pilot, ham radio operator, amateur astronomer, and model airplane designer and builder.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Chapel Hill (940 Carmichael Dr., Chapel Hill, NC 27514-4203 on Monday, November 26, 2018 at 10:00 AM. John will be buried with Military Honors in Fullerton, CA at Loma Vista Cemetery on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at 10:00 AM.
In lieu of flowers, please send memorial gifts to: U.S. Space & Rocket Center Educational Foundation, One Tranquility Base, Huntsville, AL 35805; or the National Air and Space Museum – Smithsonian Institution, P.O. Box 98091, Washington, DC 20090.