Colonel Ralph R. Gajewski Colonel Ralph R. Gajewski, USAF (ret) was born an only child in Boston, MA on November 6, 1944 but moved shortly thereafter to Castro Valley, CA, where he grew up. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1966 where he also received his commission from the Air Force. Ralph then earned his Master's and Doctorate in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Cornell University. His Air Force career assignments included the Air Force Weapons Lab, Air Force Systems Command, United States Air Force Academy (as an engineering professor), Advanced Space Vehicle Subsystem, Advanced Spacecraft Electronics, Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, and finally the Brilliant Eyes System Program Office for Space Surveillance and Tracking System at Los Angeles Air Force Base. Ralph retired from the Air Force on November 1, 1996 after 26 years of service. Upon his retirement, he was awarded the distinguished Legion of Merit Award. This award cited Ralph's exemplary leadership, foresight, and dedication to duty as key to demonstrating the potential of space based infrared sensors to defend the nation from ballistic missile attack. He was also recognized for orchestrating the first-ever United States/Russian infrared experiment, a major confidence-building step in cooperative missile defense. He continued his work in the aerospace field with the Boeing Company for nearly 14 years until retiring in 2010 due to declining health. He was excited about and proud of his contributions that facilitated the successful launch of the recent Orbital Test Vehicles. Ralph's three passions in life were his family, his work, and bicycling. In his earlier years, he competed in bicycle road races and once held the title of New Mexico State Champion in his age category. In his spare time, if not out cycling, he also enjoyed grilling, reading, and watching sports — especially the Tour de France and college football. His favorite vacation destination was Sea Ranch on the northern coast of Sonoma county. Ralph passed away on October 15, 2012 after a remarkable four-year battle with brain cancer. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Cheryl Amor; his two daughters, Kelly and Carly Gajewski; and his mother, Olive Gajewski. He had resided in Redondo Beach for the past 23 years. Friends and family are welcome to attend a memorial ceremony followed by a celebration of his life on Friday, November 9th at 2 p.m. at Rice Mortuary on Torrance Blvd. in Torrance, CA. A private burial at sea will be held the following morning. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the UCLA Health System's Partnership for Care: www.uclahealth.org/partnershipforcare

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  1. My deep condolences and sympathy to Cheryl, Kelly, Carly and Olive. I still have fond memories of the wonderful Native American tepee frame Ralph built for my parenting the preschooler class. It was amazing and his daughters and many others enjoyed it for years!!

  2. You have been a great wife to Ralph and I am sure your happy memories will keep you going. I am happy to be your friend and feel lucky to have gotten to know Ralph just a little. Condolences to you and the girls.

  3. This is sad news. I’m so sorry for your loss. There is much strength and comfort for you in all the friends you’ve gathered over the years.
    I’m very happy to be one of those friends. Take care.

  4. Ralph was a most remarkable and brilliant person. I feel very fortunate to have known him — his life was so full and enriched with his work and his loving family. My love to Cheryl, Kelly and Carly. May the wonderful memories of your life with him be cherished and remembered in many ways throughout your lives.

  5. We are so sorry for your loss.Ralph was an accomplished and successful man, husband and father. He will be missed!

  6. I am so sorry to here the sad news about Ralph. Even though I only knew him a little, he was always so kind, friendly, and polite when I was at your home. I will be out of town on Nov. 9th, but my thoughts and prayers will be with you that day.

  7. Wow! How remarkable! I was glad to have known him briefly in his memorable and remarkable career in space engineering.

  8. So interesting to read more about Ralph and his amazing life accomplishments – what a bright, gifted man! He always seemed so humble and kind – and I could tell he loved his family more than anything. I will miss him, and the incredible strength he showed as he fought so bravely against his illness.

  9. Cheryl you are of the friends in my life that even though in the most recent years we have not spent time with one another we could pick up right where we left off. Your friendship has never been forgotten or far from my heart. I realize there are no appropriate words at a time like this. I will say I love you and my prayers are with you for strength, comfort, peace and hope in Jesus Christ our Savior. Hope to see you in the near future so we can pick up where we left off.

  10. Cheryl,

    I’m so sorry for your loss; you built a wonderful life together including raising your beautiful daughters. Ralph was an extremely accomplished man. I hope your family somehow finds peace now that Ralph’s suffering is over.

  11. Cheryl, sorry I couldn’t attend the memorial service. I am so sorry for your loss! Thank you for sharing your memories of Ralph with us through the video. I wish you, Kelly and Carly all the best. I hope the good memories of Ralph as husband and father will give you strength and support in the future!

  12. I only just now learned of Col Gajewski’s death. I worked (as a captain) for him at the Brilliant Eyes SPO at LA AFB and he was one of the best supervisors to work for. I’m very sad to learn he’s gone now.

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