John Glenn, who became one of the 20th century’s greatest explorers as the first American to orbit Earth and later as the world’s oldest astronaut, and also had a long career as a U.S. senator, died in Ohio on Thursday at age 95.
Glenn, the last surviving member of the original seven American “Right Stuff” Mercury astronauts, died at the James Cancer Hospital at Ohio State University in Columbus, said Hank Wilson, a spokesman at the university’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs, which Glenn helped found.
Glenn was credited with reviving U.S. pride after the Soviet Union’s early domination of manned space exploration. His three laps around the world in the Friendship 7 capsule on Feb. 20, 1962, forged a powerful link between the former fighter pilot and the Kennedy-era quest to explore outer space as a “New Frontier.”
- John Herschel Glenn Jr. was born on July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio.
- He also was a staunch advocate of a strong military and took a keen interest in strategic issues. He retired from the Senate in 1999.
- Thirty-six years after his maiden space voyage, Glenn became America’s first geriatric astronaut on Oct. 29, 1998. He was 77 when he blasted off as a mission specialist aboard the shuttle Discovery. He saw it as a blow to the stereotyping of the elderly.
- In his latter years, he was an adjunct professor at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.
- He had a knee replacement operation in 2011 and heart surgery in 2014.
- Glenn is survived by his wife of 73 years, his childhood sweetheart, Annie Castor. They had two children, David and Lyn.
John Glenn Quotes:
If there is one thing I’ve learned in my years on this planet, it’s that the happiest and most fulfilled people I’ve known are those who devoted themselves to something bigger and more profound than merely their own self interest.