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Engineer Who Made History in Moorestown Backyard Dies

Wendell G. Anderson, a longtime Moorestown resident, was 86.

Want to recognize a loved one’s passing? Send obituaries to rob.scott@patch.com.
Want to recognize a loved one’s passing? Send obituaries to rob.scott@patch.com.

Courtesy of Lewis Funeral Home

Wendell G. Anderson, a longtime Moorestown resident, passed away on Dec. 22 at the age of 86.  

Wendell and his wife, Lillias, lived in Moorestown for many years before retiring to Medford Leas.

Wendell, a Vanderbilt University graduate, was a fourth-generation engineer. His three children and two of his grandchildren are also engineers. He spent most of his career at the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Wendell worked on anti-submarine warfare, missile defense and the global positioning system (GPS), among many other projects. He was also licensed as an amateur radio operator, call sign K2RNF.

In 1965, he became the first amateur to create a receiving station for weather satellite photos, using a home-built ham radio apparatus with a motor-controlled antenna mounted on a jungle gym in his Moorestown backyard. The received signals were converted to blinking lights. He used a microscope turned upside-down to focus tiny spots of light onto film taped to a wooden rolling pin, with its spin and lateral motion precisely controlled by two motors. He developed the film negatives and printed the pictures in his basement photo lab. Thanks to his good friend and colleague Nicholas Pensiero, this became national news in 1966 after the launch of the satellite NIMBUS II and Wendell’s successful reception of its pictures.

He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 56 years, Lillias Harris Anderson. He is survived by their three children, Wendell Anderson Jr. (wife Christine Adams), Helen Lillias Anderson (husband George Faulkner), and Thomas Harris Anderson (wife Suzanne Anderson); four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

At the family’s request, services and interment will be private. Please no flowers. Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of the donor’s choice.  

Condolences may be left at www.lewisfuneralhomemoorestown.com.

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Want to recognize a loved one’s passing? Send obituaries to rob.scott@patch.com.

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