Frank J. Colella, principal spokesman for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for nearly a quarter of a century, died peacefully at his La Cañada Flintridge home on July 29.
He was 91.
A native of New York City, Colella enlisted in the Army in 1940 and joined the 69th Infantry Regiment, the “Fighting 69th.” He served in the infantry for 2 1/2 years, followed by two years as a B-24 aviator assigned to the 44th Bomb Group, 67th Bomb Squadron.
Colella flew 37 sorties while leading strategic bombing missions over German-occupied Europe and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his achievements.
He worked for the United Nations Secretariat in New York from 1946 to 1956. He then moved his family to Los Angeles.
He moved to La Cañada and joined JPL in 1959, arriving shortly after the launch of the JPL-developed Explorer I, America's first satellite.
He was appointed manager of the public information office in 1964 and directed the information activities for the NASA-sponsored Ranger and Surveyor missions to the moon and the early Mariner voyages to the planets.
In 1976, Colella was named JPL's public affairs director and a member of its executive council. In this role, he managed all aspects of JPL's information and education activities for the Viking Mars missions and the Voyager missions to Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus.
He retired from JPL in 1988.
NASA's Kennedy Space Flight Center inducted Colella into the Chronicler's Honor Roll on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Along with the certificate, he received an American flag that was flown with the crew of the Endeavor spacecraft.
His name is inscribed on the Wall of Fame at the Kennedy Space Flight Center.
In addition to Sally, his wife of 65 years, Colella is survived by his three daughters, Victoria Colella of Sausalito, Frances Colella of Altadena, and Christine Colella Cervantes of Rancho Palos Verdes, as well as his two sisters and four grandchildren. Private services were held last week.
-- Bill Kisliuk, Times Community News