Gary Davis, Former NOAA Satellite Executive, Dies

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Gary Davis. Credit: NESDIS

WASHINGTON — Gary K. Davis, a former satellite executive with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who played a key role in negotiating weather satellite data sharing accords with Europe and Japan, died Sept. 26 in California after a five-year battle with pancreatic and neuroendocrine cancer. He was 61.

An electrical engineer by training, Mr. Davis oversaw the development and launch of 32 weather satellites during a NOAA career that began in 1975, according to information posted on the agency’s website. He retired in 2012 as director of the Office of Systems Development at NOAA’s Satellite Data and Information Service (NESDIS), a position he had held since 1997.

According to NOAA, Mr. Davis is best known for his negotiation of international agreements including accords with Japan for backup satellite coverage from geostationary orbit, and with Europe for backup coverage from polar orbit. He also represented NOAA and the United States at the international Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites, whose members include Japan, China, Russia, India, the European Meteorological Satellite Organization and the World Meteorological Organization.

Prior to taking the reins of NESDIS’s Office of Systems Development, Mr. Davis ran key NOAA facilities including the Satellite Operations Control Center in Suitland, Maryland, and Command and Data Acquisition Stations at Wallops Island, Virginia, and Fairbanks, Alaska.

He also did a stint as NOAA’s acting program executive officer for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, an effort to consolidate U.S. civilian and military weather satellite programs that was canceled in 2010.

A New York native and Brookville, Maryland, resident, Mr. Davis was visiting his daughter, Kelly Farrell, in San Diego when he died, according to a death notice published in The Washington Post. Other survivors include his wife of 38 years, Monecia, and two grandchildren. A son, Andrew, died last year.