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Memorial Tributes, Volume 12
Obviously government contracting was more flexible in those days than it is today. That contract quickly grew, and many engineers wanted to join the new enterprise, so hiring was not a problem.
For the rest of the decade, the company grew rapidly, until three major changes were made starting in 1958—Thompson took advantage of an opportunity to merge with the new company, which became TRW; Wooldridge became president of TRW; and the company spun off the resources doing advanced planning for the Air Force into a new company, Aerospace Corporation. This change allowed TRW to compete for programs to develop and build satellites for the Air Force without a conflict of interest. In fact, in 1958 TRW became the first corporation to build and launch a spacecraft, Pioneer 1. A later spacecraft, Pioneer 10, which was the first to leave the solar system, transmitted data back to Earth for more than 30 years.
Wooldridge continued as top executive of TRW for about three years, but in 1962 he retired and moved to Santa Barbara. He continued a relationship with Caltech, including engaging in research on brain function and neurology. He wrote two books on those subjects that are widely used in postgraduate courses. He and his wife also traveled extensively. In 1982, he retired from Caltech.
Wooldridge’s wife, Helene Detweiler Wooldridge, passed away in 2001. He is survived by three children, Dean E. Wooldridge Jr., Anna Lou Eklof, and James A Wooldridge, and three grandchildren, Michael Andrew, Jonathan David, and Lisa Michelle Wooldridge.know for sure they owned the house there in 1964.