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'Voice of JPL' Al Hibbs Dies After Surgery
'Voice of JPL' Al Hibbs Dies After Surgery
27 Feb 2003
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Dr. Albert Hibbs, 78, a retired JPL scientist and manager known as the "Voice of JPL" for his work as a broadcast spokesman for myriad Lab missions, died Feb. 24 following complications of heart surgery at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena.

Hibbs earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Caltech in 1945 and a master's in mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1947. He joined JPL in 1950 as a research engineer, and during his time at the Lab earned a doctorate in physics from Caltech. He then held a number of increasingly responsible research and management positions, including chief of the Research and Analysis Section, chief of the Space Sciences Division, and manager of the Transportation Technology Office. Hibbs also took on a special assignment as staff scientist for studies for the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He was also the system designer of the first U.S. satellite, Explorer I.

He may best be remembered for his service as the Lab's spokesman on the Surveyor missions to the moon; the Mariner missions to Mars, Venus and Mars; the Viking mission to Mars; and the Voyager mission to the outer planets.

Hibbs received numerous awards for his broadcasting and radio work. He won the George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award for the NBC weekly television show Exploring (1963), cited as an outstanding children's program. He twice received the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation National Media Award for the NBC radio program World of Science (1965) for being the best radio program for youth, was also honored for his work on About Science (1966), also broadcast on radio.

Hibbs received NASA's Exceptional Service Award in 1984. He retired from the Lab in 1986.

He is survived by his wife, Marka; daughter Victoria; son Bart; sister Agnes Jones; stepdaughter Alicia Cortrite; stepson Lawrence Wilson; and three grandchildren.

Private services will be held in March. The family requests that donations in Hibbs' name be made to the Caltech Y, 415 S. Holliston Ave., Pasadena, 91125.

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Last Updated: 6 Mar 2003