Cecil Arthur Myers of Columbia, SC, passed away at home in his sleep January 2, 2021. He was 97-years-old. Cecil was born May 10, 1923 in Nashville, Tennessee to Charles Gregory and Clara Jewell (Cotten) Myers.
Gifted with a curiosity about how things are put together to do the things they do, Cecil was the quintessential engineer. In Topsfield, MA, he designed and built his family's first home; over half a century, his treasured 1956 Jaguar XK-140 got special attention as he refashioned the interior, rebuilt the engine and machine-tooled new wheels. In Cecil's life, if something needed fixing, or building or redesigning, he just did it.
During WWII, he served on the Coast Guard-staffed USS Sea Cloud in the North Atlantic, a weather observation and occasional German U boat hunting ship. After the war, with an engineering degree from Georgia Tech, he designed nuclear thermal rocket engines at Aerojet in California. The work took him (and his family of 6) to Las Vegas yearly while the engines were tested at ‘nearby’ Jackass Flats in the Nevada desert.
Returning to the East Coast in 1965, Cecil put his engineering talents to work designing and managing production facilities for numerous clients over 40 years. But the promise of human travel to Mars on nuclear fueled and laser propelled rockets intrigued him to the end. After the Challenger accident in 1986, he engaged in a lively exchange of letters with the late Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC), a member of the U.S. Senate committee that held hearings on the tragedy.
He was still drawing rocket schematics in the last month of his life and following the technological advances by commercial rocket developers Space-X, Blue Origin, Virgin Orbit and others. Although his body was giving out, his mind required challenges. He reveled in the seemingly unending supply of Great Courses about new developments in theoretical physics and world history that he watched on DVD. While reading was becoming more difficult, new issues of Scientific American brought him great joy.
Although he worked on the job into his 80's, Cecil was no work drudge. With his wife of 68 years, Constance Isabelle Ashton Smith Myers who preceded him in death in 2012, he enjoyed the friendship of fellow Unitarians in communities where they lived, and travelled widely to view the world's natural and human wonders. On their 50th wedding anniversary, the two took a Volga River cruise with a stop in Russia's cultural capital, St. Petersburg.
Cecil was moved by issues of social justice, religious and political freedom and, until prevented by failing health, enjoyed attending local political events. As a WWII veteran, he was increasingly alarmed by the number of Americans ready to embrace an authoritarian leader. During the summer and fall of 2020, he expressed concern, often, that he would not live long enough to cast his vote against Donald Trump. Yet he did, surviving past South Carolina's certification of votes.
Cecil was preceded in death by son Kenneth Russell in 1997 and his brother Charles William Myers of Tennessee in 1987. He is survived by daughters Cecily Constance Myers Ashton McKinney and Carolyn Ashton Cox of Columbia, S.C. and Rachael Myers Lowe of McLean, VA; grandchildren Rachel Isabelle- Hubata Ashton (SC), Vincent Thomas Cox (SC), Sarah Ashton Cox (VA), Rebecca Margaret (Lowe) Postol (VA) and Benjamin Joseph Lowe (MD) and, great-grandchildren Cameron Russell Postol and Ophelia Ashton Olson-Cox.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a memorial service is not contemplated at this time. Barr-Price Funeral Home and Crematorium, Lexington Chapel, has assisted the family.
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