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Harner Selvidge - Past SSA President

Harner Selvidge passed away after a long illness in his retirement home town of Sedona, Arizona during the month of August 1998. He was a great gentleman and leader for the SSA during the 1950s and 1960s when he served as its president during both 1959 and 1960.

He called the 1960s "The Soaring Sixties", and he was right! For his efforts on behalf of the society he was awarded the SSA's highest award, the Warren E. Eaton award in 1961; For Outstanding Contributions to the Art of Soaring Flight, and to the SSA.

–By Dick Johnson

 

I truly enjoyed getting to know Harner the past couple of years, and my wife and I spent some time with them learning a great deal about them and the area we live in. We had a fly by after his service at Church of the Red Rocks, in Sedona - numerous power planes and Paul Dickerson dropping waterballast in his Ventus. Harner was up at the airport just a couple of weeks before his death and his love of soaring was as strong as ever.

–By Ted Grussing

 

Harner Selvidge

Harner Selvidge, 87, a long time resident of Sedona, Arizona died July 16, 1998 at Marcus Lawrence Medical Center.

Mr. Selvidge was a scientist, engineer, meteorologist, professor, business executive, entrepreneur, aviator, and musician.

Mr. Selvidge earned engineering degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. In 1936, as a graduate student he was a member of the Harvard-MIT Solar Eclipse Expedition to Siberia. While at MIT, he held the school record for the 200 yard low hurdles.

As a graduate student at Harvard, he played on the rugby team. He later spent 15 years officiating highschool and college football games in Michigan and California.

Mr. Selvidge taught at both Harvard and Kansas State Universities. During World War II, he played a key role in the development of the radio proximity fuse. This weapon component along with the atomic bomb and radar was considered on of the three greatest technological achievements of the war. It was a major factor in the success of many Allied campaigns, particularly in the naval war in the Pacific.

In 1946, he began a 13 year career as director of Special Products Development for Bendix Aviation Corporation based in Detroit. He often traveled to California for Bendix searching for and evaluating new products. In 1959, through his California contacts, he became executive vice president of Meteorology Research Incorporated (MRI), a California firm founded by Paul B. MacCready, an internationally renowned scientist who was, later to win the Kramer Prize for man-powered flight. During the 1960s, MRI conducted many research projects, near Flagstaff, flying instrumented aircraft through summer thunderstorm clouds around the San Francisco Peaks.

Mr. Selvidge's many other activities in aviation included service as president and longtime trustee of the Soaring Society of America. He also served as the first president of the Sedona Oak Creek. Airport Authority.

He began flying in 1927 at the age of 17 in surplus World War I biplanes. He maintained his pilot's license through age 82 and flew his twin-engine airplane throughout the United States.

In 1977 Mr. Selvidge was inducted into the Soaring Hall of Fame by the Soaring Society of America. From 1983 to 1990 he owned and operated Sky Mountain Aviation at Sedona Oak Creek Airport offering a range of aviation services.

Shortly after moving to Sedona, Arizona in 1969 with his wife Eloise, Selvidge and his partner William A. Steinbach, established Sedona Land Company, which developed thirteen residential subdivisions in Sedona.

Deeply involved in Church activities, having served as Moderator of the Church of the Red Rocks, Mr. Selvidge had earlier served as a presiding elder of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California.

Mr. Selvidge was also an accomplished musician on several instruments, most particularly the trumpet and pipe organ. He was a leader of his own dance band during his college years. He was a member of and for several years directed the Sedona Concert Band. In 1995, he received the Don Pratt Memorial Award for his 19 years of dedicated service.

After his retirement, Mr. Selvidge chronicled his life in a two volume memoir, "Boundaries of Other Countries" and "Red Rocks and Blue Skies". They are popular books at the Sedona Public Library.

Among his many professional and civic affiliations, mr. Selvidge was a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a founding member of the Sinagua Society of the Museum of Northern Arizona.

Mr. Selvidge is survived by his wife of 65 years, Eloise, his four children, Robert Campbell Selvidge, Judith Elizabeth Selvidge, Margaret Selvidge Kleinman and Ross Stanley Selvidge and three grandchildren.

–by Ted Grussing

Posted: 2/1/1999


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