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Maurice Grimes Hale, 81, of Madison, AL, formerly of Tullahoma, TN, died peacefully at his home on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, after an extended illness. Maurice was born on December 24, 1941, in McMinnville, TN, to Albert and Nelle Safley Hale.
As a young boy, Maurice dreamed of soaring in the heavens. Later, he earned money to pay for flying lessons at Bomar Field in Shelbyville by pumping gas and washing planes on the line. He was a natural aviator, completing his first solo flight at the age of 15 and earning his private pilot’s license at the age of 16, just a few days before he got his license to drive a car. He graduated from Shelbyville Central High School as a member of the class of 1959.
His interest in flight and space travel continued throughout his life and career. He was an avid fan of Star Trek and space adventure series for many years. He liked to say that he proved the old pilot’s adage that “any landing you can walk away from is a good one” after surviving a devastating crash of his ultralight plane following a mechanical failure during a flight on October 4, 2011. Even though the crash ended his time as pilot in command of airplanes, he continued to “fly” with his computer simulator for many more years and in 2022 he published a book about his lifetime of flying adventures.
In 1962, Maurice married Margaret Stratton Stepp. They resided in Knoxville where each earned their undergraduate degrees at the University of Tennessee, Maurice’s in Mechanical Engineering. He later earned his MS in Aerospace Engineering and an MBA from the University of Tennessee Space Institute in Tullahoma.
Maurice spent most of his career in aerospace engineering, working with Sverdrup, SAIC, and Raytheon, from which he retired. He also spent several early years as an entrepreneur and business owner. He was particularly proud of his contributions to improving risk management in the U.S. space program following the space shuttle Challenger explosion.
He and Margaret raised their three children in Hendersonville and Tullahoma, TN, and later, as empty nesters, lived in Virginia, California, Huntsville, AL and Fayetteville, TN.
Maurice was a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers and a long- time Rotarian. He also enjoyed singing in barbershop quartets. For many years he was an active member of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Tullahoma where he served on the vestry and sang in the choir, and he and Margaret were also active at St. Mary Magdalene in Fayetteville. He served as a member of the Bishop and Council for the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee. Maurice was infamous among his family and friends for spinning fantastic and entertaining yarns about flying, business, science, history, geology, and just about any other topic that happened to come up in conversation.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Margaret Stepp Hale, of Madison, AL; daughter, Dr. Anne Hale (Laurie Weeks) of Placitas, NM; son David Grimes Hale (Kelsey Vaughn) of Kirkland, WA; granddaughters Caroline Taylor (Michael) of Hartselle, AL and Sadie Hale of Los Angeles, CA; grandsons Will Sharpton of Chattanooga, TN, Alex Sharpton (Melody) of Nashville, TN, and Henry Hale of Seattle, WA; great-granddaughters Chloe and Claire Taylor of Hartselle; sister Brenda Hale Glenn of Tullahoma, TN; sisters-in-law Jane Stepp Sherborne, Melissa Stepp Birdsong and Susan Stepp Harrell; nieces Katie Sherborne, Susanna Birdsong, Amy Harrell Edgar, Meredith Harrell Ellison; nephews Ken Glenn, Trey Glenn, Bill Sherborne, Zach Sherborne, Michael Harrell; and many great-nieces and great-nephews. Maurice was preceded in death by his daughter, Kelly Elizabeth Hale, granddaughter Erika Megan Sharpton, and his parents, Albert and Nelle Hale.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m., November 4, 2023, at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Tullahoma, TN, with visitation at 9 a.m. in the church parlor. Interment will be in the columbarium at St. Barnabas. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Maurice’s memory may be made to St. Barnabas or a charity of choice.