After a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, Allan passed peacefully with family at his side on August 7, 2023, at Hope West in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Allan was born September 22, 1936 in Chicago, IL to George and Esther (Haak) Conrad. He attended Lutheran schools in Chicago and studied mechanical engineering at Valparaiso University for his BS and at Northwestern University for his MS.
His life was marked by his generous contributions to family, church, and the mountaineering and science communities.
He spent his career at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), mostly leading teams of engineers engaged in unmanned missions to space. His work was integral to the first close-up photos of the moon (Ranger); the first and second spacecraft to fly-by Venus (Mariner 2 & 5); the first fly-by of Mars (Mariner 4); the first Mars orbiter (Mariner 9); the first space telescope to study the sky in infrared light (IRAS); the first spacecraft to image the entire surface of Venus and the first interplanetary spacecraft launched from the Space Shuttle (Magellan); the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter and deploy an entry probe into an outer planet’s atmosphere (Galileo); and, the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn, land in the outer solar system and sample an extraterrestrial ocean (Cassini-Huygens). He received several awards from NASA for his contributions to the US space program. It was while at JPL that he met and married the love of his life Sharon (Oehl) and welcomed her children Stacey and Kevin into his family.
Allan was a man of God. He volunteeredg faithfully at the Episcopal churches he attended – St. Luke’s in La Crescenta, CA and St. Matthew’s in Grand Junction. He served on the Vestry, was the Sr. Warden, was a lay reader at Sunday services, and even joined the choir for a period (God must have a sense of humor!). He readily helped wherever it was needed and did so, as he said, “gratefully”.
An avid mountaineer, Allan logged ascents of over 200 peaks. Virtually all family vacations with first wife Ingrid (Schlange) and children Mark and Lisa were spent backpacking in the Sierra Nevada and the western National Parks. He was a Basic Mountaineering Training Course instructor and led many backpack and climbing trips for the Sierra Club’s Sierra Peak Section. The decision that he and Sharon made to retire to Grand Junction in 1998 was largely based on the fact that Colorado had 14ers he still needed to summit. Here, he became involved with the Colorado Mountain Club and enjoyed backpacking with friends and introducing church members to his love of the outdoors.
Residents of Grand Junction will also remember Allan for his volunteer work in the fields of math and science. Through RSVP, he tutored District 51 middle school children in math for several years. Upon meeting John McConnell, he became involved with the Math & Science Center as a volunteer with exhibits and working with the kids in the center, became the volunteer coordinator to staff the center, and ultimately became involved as a board member and donor to the Eureka! Science Museum from its inception. Allan retired in his official capacity from the board in 2022. He continued to cherish the relationships and his experiences there until his passing.
Allan leaves behind his beloved wife of 43 years, Sharon, sister Marilyn Miller, son Mark Conrad, daughter Lisa DePasqual, daughter Stacey Lee, son Kevin Comorre, ten grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and several cousins, nieces and nephews. Allan was predeceased by his younger brother Norman.
A memorial service is planned for September 22, 2023 at 2:00 pm at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 3888 27-1/2 Rd. Remote viewing of the service will be via Zoom and Facebook Live at the following link: https://www.stmatthewsgj.org/morning-prayer. Click on green button for Zoom (requires a password) or the Facebook Live button. Inurnment in the Columbarium will follow the service. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Hope West (3090 N. 12th St.,Grand Junction, CO 81506) and the EUREKA! McConnell Science Museum (1400 N 7th St, Grand Junction, CO 81501).