Richard Thomas Gainey passed away peacefully on July 16, 2019 at the age of 93. He was born on February 26, 1926 to Stacey and Harriet Gainey in Erie, Illinois and was the youngest of five children. During World War II he served in the Marines and participated in the Battle of Okinawa and in the occupation of Japan. After the war, he met the love of his life, Agnes Van den Berghe, and they were married in September of 1951. Dick was the first in his family to go to college. He attended Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois earning a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1952. Initially he worked at John Deere but moved to California in 1957 to pursue a career in aerospace. He worked on the environmental control system for the Apollo command module, specifically the oxygen pressure regulator, water valve and cryogenic tanks. It is fitting that his departure from this world occurred on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 liftoff. Later, Dick was the responsible engineering authority for a space-qualified, closed-loop cryogenic cooler to cool infrared sensors to 10 degrees Kelvin (-440 deg F). He was instrumental in the development of the Maverick Missile which is still in use today. He was an active member of St. James Catholic Church in Redondo Beach for over 50 years. Following his retirement he and Agnes ran the homeless program at the church for over 20 years and they recently received the Shining Star award for their service to the parish community. Dick is survived by his wife of nearly 68 years Agnes; children: James (Susan), Daniel, Steven (Debra), Jeanine (Keith); 11 grandchildren: Kathryn, Kristopher, Kimberly, Kylene, Kurtis, Patrick, Timothy, Maren, Ryanne, Neil and Angela; and 6 great grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Mary Newton. His funeral mass will be held on July 23, 2019 at 10 AM at St. James Catholic Church and will be interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City. The family requests, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to St. James’ homeless ministry, “Feed the Needy” c/o St. James Parish Office 124 N. Pacific Coast Highway Redondo Beach, CA 90277.

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  1. We are sorry for your loss. Uncle Dick was such a great person, he will live in our memories forever.

  2. I have not seen him lately as I am from Illinois. My my mom and Agnes have been friends since high school. He is my godfather. Rest in peace. Your smile will be missed.

  3. Dear Aunt Agnes and family, You have been in my thoughts and prayers. Uncle Dick certainly left his mark upon our American legacy. I knew that he worked in the space program, but hadn’t realized what a vital part he played. The two of you were also an important and dedicated part of nourishing so many in your community. There are many left to cherish his memory. Love, Susan

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