Scottsdale, AZ Daniel Charles Preska, 84, died Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at the Honor Health Scottsdale Shea Medical Center following a prolonged battle with heart disease.
Dan leaves his wife of 58 years, Dr. Margaret Robinson Preska; his sons, Robert (Vanita) and William (Kathleen) Preska; his daughter, Ellen Steck (Glenn Gabriel); his six grandchildren: Vanna, Valynne, Margo, Kristy, KC and Ryan; his sister Jean Lubas, niece, Barbara Schlicher and nephew, David Lubas; several great-nieces and nephews and seven in-laws, whom he loved as if they were blood-siblings.
Born and raised in Reading, PA, the son of Leon and Helen (Gernert) Preska, Dan was a resident of Pomona, CA; Mankato, MN; Dundee, NY; and most recently, along with wife Margaret, enjoying an extended visit with his daughter Ellen and her family in Scottsdale, AZ.
After graduating from Reading High School in 1951, Dan received his machinist certification at Berks Technical Institute in Wyomissing, PA. He then worked as an engineer for AT&T and attended Penn State University, graduating in 1959 with a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering. He met his wife, Margaret Robinson, at Penn State and they were married in 1959 at the Eisenhower Chapel on campus. The same year, they moved to Pomona, CA, where Dan pursued his 48-year engineering career in aerospace techniques and secure communications systems.
Dan contributed greatly to our nation's guided missile defense program in the early 1960s. While completing his Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering at USC, he worked in NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, CA. He was a lead systems engineer on several important unmanned space missions, including the Viking Mars Lander program, which was the first mission to return pictures from the surface of Mars. He retired from Lockheed Martin Corporation in 2003.
Dan took great pride in his work. He enjoyed sharing his enthusiasm for science and technology, and he truly relished the friends he made during his life. His genuine smile would light up the entire room. He was quick to laugh and share a good joke. His most cherished moments occurred when he was surrounded by his family.
Dan quietly pursued his passions, which included working on cars and motorcycles, home remodeling, fixing and building things in general, weightlifting and roller skating (at which he was a master!). One of his most fulfilling pursuits was in education - he taught college mathematics as an adjunct professor for "fun," while always encouraging continued learning, working to support others in their pursuit of higher education both domestically and internationally.
Dan was preceded in death by his parents, his older brothers Leon, and John, and is survived by his sister Jean Lubas of Reading, PA.
Dan was cremated on July 17, 2017. Memorial services will be on September 9th at 2pm at Minnesota State University Mankato's Earley Center for Performing Arts and also on September 23rd in Dundee, NY.
Dan Preska exuded positivity that lit the way for all around him. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the Minnesota State University, Mankato Foundation. Those wishing to make a memorial gift may call 507-389-6832, or visit the memorial Web pages for the Preska Scholar Program Endowment at http://bitly.com/2v9u5C8 and/or the Margaret and Dan Preska Theatre Scholarship at http://bitly.com/2tCbi06.
Published on July 23, 2017