John Acurio, age 91, was born in Garfield, NJ, to the late Charles and Esperina Acurio. During the years of World War II, he served as a bicycle telegram carrier, often delivering news to families of service members. As a teenager, baseball was his pastime, and he remained an avid fan throughout his life. He also developed what would become a lifelong fascination with aviation. At age 17, John attended Purdue University to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Upon graduation in 1951, he was recruited by Boeing in Seattle, WA, where he launched his career and fulfilled his dream of working in aviation engineering. While attending a Boeing picnic, he met the love of his life, Dolores Krininger, and they were married the following year. Together they raised 4 daughters and spent many happy days exploring our country’s scenic destinations and historic sites.
John, Dolores, and family lived in various places, beginning in Seattle, WA, then relocating to the Philadelphia, PA area, followed by a move to Strongsville, OH, as a result of John’s career advancements. Upon John’s retirement in 1992, John and Dolores moved to Port Orchard WA, to return to their beloved Pacific Northwest. In 2010, they relocated to Winchester, VA, to live in proximity to family. John will be most remembered for his devotion to his wife, his family, and his faith. He had a strong sense of community with a natural ability to cultivate friendships, often delivering laughter through his light-hearted humor.
John was preceded in death by his loving wife, Dolores, of 65 years. He is survived by four loving daughters: Diane Acurio (Eben) Trevino (Warrenton, VA); Mary Ellen (Craig) Payken (Midland, TX); Joan (Bud) Divens (Clarksville, VA); and Charlotte (Nate) Sanson (Raleigh, NC); seven beautiful granddaughters Julia (Bryan) Mabee (Midland, TX); Claire (Gil) Gonzalez (Los Alamitos, CA); Hannah Payken (Kandern, Germany); Alison (Chris) O’Connor (New Market, MD); Laura (Daniel) Zambrano (Tucker, GA); Molly Divens (Garrett Hasslinger) (Frederick, MD); and Gina Sanson (fiancé Brian Phillips) (Raleigh, NC); 8 wonderful great grandchildren Daniel and Clark O’Connor; Blake and Brooke Gonzalez; Will, Meredith and Ella Jane Mabee; and Ethan Zambrano; step grandsons Joshua (Michelle) (Austin, TX) and Ethan Trevino (Warrenton, VA); step great grandsons Nathaniel and Thomas (Austin, TX). John is survived by many nieces and nephews as well as grand nieces and nephews.
From 1951 until his retirement in 1992, John’s career focused on research and development activities for aircraft propulsion system design. Immediately after graduating from Purdue, John joined the “Gas Turbine Project” of The Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington. This group focused on producing gas turbine engines for commercial aircraft, including the Model 502, the first such engine to reach production status. Later, he went on to work as a thermodynamicist, performing engine component design and testing. Next, as Chief of the Preliminary Design group and then as a Program Manager, he managed the design of existing and prototype gas turbine engines. Then, in 1967, he joined the Vertol Division of the Boeing Company in Philadelphia PA as Chief of the Propulsion/Mechanical Staff developing technology for advanced engines and aircraft, devising engine airframe interface requirements, and conducting independent research for power systems and electrical-mechanical controls.
In October of 1971, John accepted a position with the newly-formed US Army’s Air Mobility Research and Development Laboratory and was named Director of the Lewis Directorate (now the US Army Aviation Research and Technology Activity, Propulsion Directorate at the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center). While serving in this capacity, he was named as a charter member of the Federal workforce’s Senior Executive Service (SES). The programs he managed covered a range of disciplines, primarily for technological research/development for aircraft engines and drive trains.
He served on a number of national/international Committees, including a 9-year assignment to NATO’s Advisory Group for Aerospace Research Development (Propulsion and Energetics Panel) and NASA’s Aeronautics Advisory Committee. Additionally, he received numerous awards and commendations throughout his stellar career including the Cliff Garrett Turbomachinery Engineering Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Secretary of the Army’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Materiel Acquisition, the Mayor’s key to city of Cleveland, and several Meritorious Civilian Service Awards. Further, he delivered guest lectures to academia and engineering students at various universities (Purdue University, New York University, University of Delaware, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Ohio State University, and University of Cincinnati).
The Acurio family extends heartfelt appreciation to the staff at Village at Orchard Ridge/Orchard Woods, MyPotential, the Valley Health medical community, and Blue Ridge Hospice for their tender and attentive care of John.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Blue Ridge Hospice (brhospice.org).