(Obituary published in The News & Observer on 6/8/2008.)
Walter Joel Harrington, 91, a mathematician who was involved in early rocket development in the United States, died at Morningside of Raleigh on June 2, 2008. Dr. Harrington received his PhD in mathematics at Cornell University in 1941 and taught at Penn State University from 1941 to 1944. From 1944 to 1946 he was research associate at Allegheny Ballistics Lab in Cumberland, MD. After a year as visiting professor of Mathematics at Cornell, 1946-47, Dr. Harrington returned to Penn State, teaching there from 1947 until 1957. From 1957 until 1992, he was Professor of Mathematics at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and became Professor Emeritus upon his retirement.
During his years at North Carolina State, Dr. Harrington also served as Project Director of the Office of Scientific Research grants of the U.S. Air Force, 1967-72. Dr. Harrington's research included a number of topics in applied mathematics, including exterior ballistics and rocketry, and his publications include papers on the motion of spin- stabilized rockets.
He was a member of the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, and Pi Mu Epsilon.
One of Dr. Harrington's hobbies was the collecting of antique clocks. Over approximately forty years he acquired a sizeable collection, and he maintained a life-long interest in the human understanding of and experience of time.
A member of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church for fifty years, Dr. Harrington was also a long-term volunteer at The Shepherd's Table Soup Kitchen of Raleigh. Dr. Harrington was married to Hazel Cheney Harrington from 1941 until her death in 1993. He is survived by two children, Rachel Harrington Doggett of Bethesda, MD, and James Edward Harrington of Bear Creek, NC. Survivors also include his brothers, Albert Harrington of Pullman, WA, and Herbert Harrington of Belmont, NY.
A memorial service will take place at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church on Thursday, June 12, 2008, at 2:00 p.m. The family will receive visitors at the church from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. A memorial service will also be held at Ivory Cemetery in Ivory, NY, at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to The Shepherd's Table Soup Kitchen of Raleigh, P.O. Box 28024, Raleigh, NC 27611, or to Hospice of Wake County, 1300 St. Mary's Street, Suite 400, Raleigh, NC 27605. Tributes may be made to the family at, www.brownwynne.com