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Dr. Raynor  L. Duncombe
  • In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the University of Texas, Department of Aerospace Engineering, 301 E. Dean Keeton C2100, Austin, Texas 78712-0287
  • with checks payable to UT Austin. Please include in the memo line: In Memory of Ray Duncombe

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Dr. Raynor L. Duncombe Obituary


Memories & Candles

“Dear Family and Friends, Mr. Duncombe was a wonderful smile in my life. I work for Jack Brown Cleaners and he was my customer. Not only was he...Read More »
1 of 7 | Posted by: Deanna - Austin, TX - Friend

“My condolences to Ray and Jan. I know we have talked about your Dad and he was cherished by you both. It is hard to lose a loved one so close to you....Read More »
2 of 7 | Posted by: Tom Wright - Oneonta, NY

“Ray was a special friend and colleague, always cheerful, supportive, and multi-talented. It was a pleasure to have known him, worked with him, and...Read More »
3 of 7 | Posted by: E Myles Standish Jr - Seneca, SC, SC

“Dr. Duncombe was a very special man & we will miss him dearly. He was always happy. We always looked forward to his visits-pictures of his great...Read More »
4 of 7 | Posted by: Dr.Richard E.King D.D.S & Staff - TX

“Dr Duncombe was a ray of sunshine around our office, always so gracious, always so interested in anything you had had going on in your life. And he...Read More »
5 of 7 | Posted by: Ileene Pickett - Austin, TX

“Ray was a friend and colleague to all members of the Hubble Space Telescope Astrometry Team. Aside from his many scientific contributions I will...Read More »
6 of 7 | Posted by: William van Altena - New Haven, CT

“Dr Raynor Lockwood Duncombe has meant very much for everybody who met Him. It was His openness and charming smile that won Him immediately how...Read More »
7 of 7 | Posted by: Victor K. Abalakin


Dr. Raynor L. Duncombe died at his residence in Austin, Texas on Friday, July 12, 2013 at the age of 96. Born in Bronxville, N.Y. in 1917, he was educated at Wesleyan University, with an M.A. from the University of Iowa in English literature and a PhD from Yale University in Astronomy. Dr. Duncombe worked as an astronomer at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. and was Director of the Nautical Almanac Office; until recently, he served as a professor of aerospace science at the University of Texas at Austin and was recently made professor emeritus.

Dr. Duncombe was predeceased by his first wife, Avis Bailey Duncombe and by his second wife, Julena Steinheider Duncombe.

Dr. Duncombe is survived by one son, Raynor Bailey Duncombe (Janice) of Middleburgh, N.Y., two grandchildren, Christina L. Duncombe of Chesapeake, VA and Raynor L. Duncombe (Heidi) of Mooresville, N.C. and their two children, his great grandchildren, Ava and Zack.

Dr. Duncombe was a member of the NASA space science steering committee having worked on the Vanguard, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects and was instrumental in determining the orbit of Sputnik when launched by the Russians. He was a member of the Hubble Space Telescope Astrometry team and was past executive editor of Celestial Mechanics. He was a fellow of various astronomy associations and received numerous awards.

Dr. Duncombe was a true renaissance man. He was as comfortable reciting poetry as he was discussing the universe. He learned to fly a plane, had perfect pitch and played several musical instruments, and was skilled at plumbing, carpentry and electrical work. Most of all he had a contagious sense of humor and a well grounded sense of self that was never boastful. He loved encouraging and aiding students in pursuit of their education. He enriched so many lives and will be sorely missed by those who knew him.

A service will be held on Sunday, July 28, 2013, at 2:30 p.m. followed by a visitation with light refreshments at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home located at 3125 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin. An additional service, followed by a visitation will be held on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at noon at Bryant Grant Funeral Home located at Highway 64 E., Highlands, N.C. Highlands was Dr. Duncombe's summer home. Burial will be at a later date in Newtown, Connecticut.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the University of Texas, Department of Aerospace Engineering, 301 E. Dean Keeton C2100, Austin, Texas 78712-0287 with checks payable to UT Austin. Please include in the memo line: In Memory of Ray Duncombe.

Funeral Services
Interment at a Later Date

Newtown, CT