Published On Sunday December 23 2007  Reprinted with permission of Yakima Herald
Jackson Wong, Sail Maker and Engineer
Keith & Keith Funeral Home

ANNAPOLIS, MD - Jackson Wong, age 72, died Sunday, December 16, 2007 in Annapolis, MD while preparing his beloved sailboat the "Fy Shun", (meaning "Fast Ship"), for the winter season.

He was born in Yakima, Washington on February 7, 1935 to Wong You and Dong Shee and raised on the family farm in Union Gap. In 1954, Jackson graduated magna cum laude from Yakima High School. He went on to attend Yakima Junior College, Washington State University, then transferred to Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR where he was awarded his Bachelor's degree in mechanical and automotive engineering in 1958. He was awarded the Standard Oil Fellowship for graduate work and received his Master's degree in 1959. Early in his career he worked with Boeing, Bell Aero Systems, Gellcomm, and Atlantic Research on projects in advanced propulsion and control systems. As a contractor to NASA for lunar and planetary missions, he conducted advanced research in aerospace technology in metallurgy, propulsion, and control systems.

In the early 1950's and 1960's, Mr. Wong, along with his brothers and friends, built and raced their racecar "The Rickshaw" and a hydroplane "Charity" on the West Coast. His innovative use of metal and hydrodynamics were instrumental in setting a July 1962 world record on Green Lake near Seattle, WA for the 225 cubic inch class.

In 1970, Mr. Wong joined the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as Senior Automotive Engineer in the Research Department and was involved in many of the Institute's pioneering automobile safety evaluation and crash testing programs. He worked on the engineering aspects of reducing roadside hazards and the development of breakaway utility poles to reduce injuries to vehicle occupants. He designed and conducted a pioneering field test of the high center-mounted brake lights that have long since become part of the standard passenger car safety package. In addition, he worked on automotive defect studies including investigation of possible lower control arm defects and the uncovering of steering obstruction potential in certain models. He devised methods for reducing occupant compartment penetration in truck-car crashes and evaluated the effectiveness of the early Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. He was also active in the Institute's pioneering seat belt effectiveness studies and truck braking studies. After retiring from IIHS in 1989, he was hired by Lockheed Corp. as a propulsion consultant during the development of the Trident missile post-boost control system and the interface with Atlantic Research during the development of the gas generator for that system.

Mr. Wong was an avid sailboat racer who collected numerous trophies. He was a member of the Herrington Harbor Sailing Association and the Tartan 30 Association. He was also a partner in an Annapolis marina for many years. Mr. Wong's passion for sailboat racing led to a successful custom sail and canvas fabricating enterprise, Potomac Sailmakers, Inc. based in Alexandria, VA. Since starting the company in 1972, his aeronautical engineering skills served him well in designing highly efficient sails which gained him worldwide recognition. His company was responsible for engineering custom canvas work which included unique projects such as: electronic golf devices with time and distance sensors embedded in the fabric, the honor guard sentry shelter at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and curtains for the White House press room.

Mr. Wong and his wife Joetta traveled extensively to Alaska, the San Juan Islands, sailed the Caribbean, and toured Europe and several countries in Latin America. He had a strong tennis game, enjoyed reading US and world history, and continued to be active in high school reunions. Each year, he and Joetta returned to Yakima to visit family and numerous friends.

He is survived by his wife Joetta Miller of Annandale, Virginia, and his brother Joe Wong of Yakima.

Visitation will be 10 A.M. to 11 A.M. Friday, December 28, 2007 at the Keith and Keith Funeral Home 9th Avenue Chapel, 902 W. Yakima Avenue, Yakima, WA. Funeral services will be at 11 A.M. in the 9th Avenue Chapel, followed by interment in Tahoma Cemetery. The family suggests memorial contributions be made to Oregon State University to establish an Engineering Scholarship in memory of Jackson Wong, OSU Foundation, 850 Southwest 35th Street, Corvallis, OR 97333.