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Orville Alitz

Cedar Rapids

Orville John Alitz, 86, formerly of Marion, Iowa, died Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. He had been struggling with Parkinson's disease — now he's free.
A memorial service will be held at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, 2019, at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Marion, conducted by Pastor Dennis Johnson. The family will greet friends one hour before the service at the church Thursday. Arrangements by Murdoch Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Marion.
Orville was born and raised in Eau Claire, Wis. During his first year in college, he enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed primarily in Germany during the early days of the Cold War and the Berlin Wall. During that time, he participated in several missions releasing chaff (metal strips) over Germany to confuse Russian radar. After his tour, he returned to Eau Claire to continue his studies in electrical engineering. During that time he met his future wife, Jo. They moved to Madison, Wis., to complete his studies.
After completing his engineering degree, Orville was hired by Collins Radio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Early in his career, he was assigned to work on the communications radios for the Apollo and Gemini projects. After the completion of Gemini project he was allowed to pursue his own ideas. Recalling the interaction of radar with the chaff, he developed analysis of the Doppler effect in weather radar to determine motion and turbulence in rain. Along with David Moos, he developed the phase-array antenna. Working closely with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This became the basis of our modern color radar, now common in planes and television stations.
He had a love of the outdoors and went on many camping trips with his family, starting with tenting trips to the Rockies and progressing to traveling much of the U.S. and parts of Canada in RVs with extended family. His love of the outdoors tied in with his involvement with the Boy Scouts of America. Growing up, he was a member of a local troop in Eau Claire. When completing his studies in Madison, he was an assistant scoutmaster. When his son grew old enough to join the Scouts, he became the Scoutmaster of a troop and served for several years. He was proud of the 12 boys he shepherded through the program to Eagle Scout.
He is survived by his wife, Jo; brother, Robert and his wife Diana; son, David, and his wife, Dawn, and their daughters, Birgit and Tabitha; son-in-law, Joe Clause, and his children, Marissa, Lauren and Jordan; four great-grandchildren; and nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Orville R. and Alice S. (Amdahl) Alitz; sister, Beatrice A. Mittelstadt; sister, Dolores M. (who died in infancy); and daughter, Elizabeth A. Clause.
Please share a memory of Orville at www.murdochfuneralhome.com under obituaries.
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