Richard Louis Haller of Fort Worth, Texas, aerospace engineer, pecan farmer and loving husband, father and friend, died September 14, 2017 of colon cancer. He was 87.
Haller was born February 3, 1930 in San Antonio, Texas. He attended public schools in San Antonio, graduating from Edison High School, where he was on the basketball team. He knew early on that he had an aptitude for science. He graduated from San Antonio College with an associate’s degree in 1949 and Southwest Texas State College (now Texas State University), with a teaching degree in the areas of math and physics in 1952.
When he heard that the U.S. Air Force was training meteorologists for the Korean War, he entered that program, studying meteorology for a year at UCLA before going to Korea to brief pilots on weather conditions. He spent the remainder of his time in the Air Force in Clovis, NM, where he took extension courses in engineering from the University of Texas. He also took numerous graduate courses at the Lyle School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University.
In 1956, he was hired by General Dynamics in Fort Worth (then Convair) and worked there 35 years. He was a senior engineer and division chief, specializing in structural dynamics. He analyzed vibration and flutter on aircrafts, specifically working on the team that designed the F-16 fighter jet. He authored and co-authored numerous papers and reports on jet vibration. At the end of his General Dynamics career, he led a team that trained Taiwanese engineers to build jets.
He bought acreage in Grandview, Texas, in 1965 and started a pecan orchard when he saw a large native tree on the bottom land of the property. The Haller Pecan Farm was born. He and his family spent every Saturday improving the property and planting almost 1,000 pecan trees over the years. He retired from General Dynamics in 1992 and devoted his retirement time to the Haller Pecan Farm. He added two more parcels of land to the original 48 acres and started raising grass-fed, hormone-free beef cattle.
He was an active member of the Texas Pecan Growers Association and collaborated with a Texas A&M researcher on an academic article for Pecan Quarterly about tree density in pecan orchards. Haller also became an expert on climate change when he started seeing evidence of it at the Haller Pecan Farm. With his background in meteorology, he researched climate change and made several presentations about it at First Presbyterian Church and St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church.
Haller was an active member of St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, which he joined with his family in 1963. He served on the Session, as well as chair of the property committee for many years. He was also an avid supporter of the Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services of Texas.
In the late 1950s through the 1970s, he was an avid boater and water skier. He met his beloved wife of 57 years, Gay Grumbles, at a boating outing at Possum Kingdom Lake in 1959.
He is survived by his wife, Gay, of Ft Worth; his daughter, Beth Haller, of Towson, Maryland; nephew, Ernest W. Grumbles III (Mary) of St. Paul, Minn., and his family; niece, Diana Grumbles Blackman (Chris) of Dallas and her family; and first cousins, Joy Cermin Hilts of Arlington, Texas and her family; Ayres Cermin (Jo Ann) of Wichita Falls and his family; Roger Haller of San Antonio, Kay Haller Cobb (Jon) of Dallas; John Haller (Carolyn) of San Antonio and his family; Cheryl Boldt of San Antonio; Robin Boldt of San Antonio; and numerous friends of many years.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church (2700 McPherson Ave., Fort Worth, TX 76109) or Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services of Texas (5920 W. William Cannon Drive, Bldg. 3-Suite 100, Austin, Texas 78749).
A memorial service was September 30 at St. Stephen Presbyterian Church, 2700 McPherson Ave., Fort Worth, TX 76109. His interment in the columbarium at St. Stephen’s will be at a later date.