Randolph family has 70-plus years at China Lake

Randolph family has 70-plus years at China LakeJames Randolph (marked on photo) with the Public Works automotive maintenance crew in 1951 — U.S. Navy photo

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By STACIE LAWRENCE

NAWCWD Public Affairs

Twins Roy and Rex Randolph were infants when their parents, James “Olen” and H. Willodine Randolph, moved to China Lake. Olen began working as an automotive mechanic in 1947, just four years after the inception of the Naval Ordnance Test Station, with his wife joining shortly after in 1953. November 8 marks not only 75 years of the Navy at China Lake, but for many like the Randolph family, it symbolizes generations of continued service.

From 1947 to 1974, Olen worked in Public Works and, for a time, at San Clemente Island, while Willodine began working as a math aid but retired in 1976 as head of staff in the Technical Information Department. Rex and Roy’s uncle, Neal Webb, worked as the business manager for the Earth and Planetary Sciences Division between 1960 and 1980 in addition to their aunt, Stlene Moore, who worked as a secretary in the Housing Division in the 1950s. Stlene’s husband, Homer, was a crane operator from the ‘40s through the ‘60s. Though none of these family members were originally from California, they made China Lake their home.

“They came to China Lake because jobs were available here despite the phasing out of defense work in many parts of the country after World War II,” said Roy, a second-generation China Lake employee. “I think a notable achievement of this generation of people was the way they honored their work and were glad to have steady employment. They enjoyed raising their families in a secure economic setting after growing up during the Depression.”

Both Roy and Rex worked on base through the “Work Experience Program” as seniors at Burroughs High School. Roy’s China Lake experience included work in the Research Department under Dr. Pierre Saint-Amand and Rex was an L.T.E. Thompson Award-winning weapons analyst. Before retirement, Roy served in the Aircraft Survivability Division and Rex was inducted into the Naval Air Systems Command Fellows program in addition to receiving the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award.

“I’ve always liked science and technology and was impressed with the technical people and the technical work here, so I returned when I graduated from college.” Roy said. “My Sunday School teacher was one of the head physicists in the early Sidewinder program.”

Roy’s wife, Lorraine, according to their son Tim, “met Roy in college and left behind her idyllic life on the beaches of Southern California to help him raise their family before going to work [at China Lake], herself.” Lorraine began her career in 1981 as an operator at the Weapons and Tactics Analysis Center and gained a role as an acting integrated product team lead before retiring in 2009.

“I certainly feel pride and gratitude to be part of a tradition of people supporting our warfighters,” said Tim, who currently works as a software test lead for the Combat Environment Simulation Division. “I hope future employees enjoy the same sense of satisfaction and pride as my family and I have felt working here, and that they will be able to contribute to and preserve the tradition of excellence that continues to distinguish China Lake’s role in our national defense and security.”

After 15 years in the private sector, Tim’s wife, Jeane, began working at China Lake in 2015 as a technical writer and software tester and currently serves in Weapon Systems Mission Planning. In Ridgecrest, she said, she feels like she can breathe, which is a contrast to the larger cities she’s lived in previously.

“One of the reasons we originally came to Ridgecrest was to be closer to family and leave the overcrowded city life,” she said. “We also continue to stay because my husband and I are both proud to help – in some small part – keep the U.S. Navy and other military warfighters safe and returning home.”

“I think NAWCWD is an amazing employer,” said Philip Randolph, Tim’s cousin and additional third-generation employee. “I think the organization, as a whole, supports employees and that inspires me to give my best in return.”

In addition to providing clerical services and office manager training and support, Philip supports the Command Artifacts historical preservation program and, in the same spirit of conserving China Lake’s history, his father Rex is a docent and volunteer for the China Lake Museum. Philip’s brother, Jim, did not work at China Lake, but served in both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force Reserves. However, Philip’s sister-in-law, Tara Randolph, has worked at China Lake for 11 years supporting the contracts office. Tara is a second-generation China Laker succeeding her father, Charles Marrs, who was a laser physicist before retiring in 2017 after 37 years of service. Marrs was also a recipient of the L.T.E. Thompson and Michelson Laboratory Awards in addition to being a Naval Weapons Center Fellow inductee.

“‘Home’ is what comes to mind when I think of China Lake,” Tara said. “I like to think that, while I may not be doing the exact same thing that my father or father-in-law did, we all have supported the warfighter, which brings me a strong sense of pride in our American mission.”

By STACIE LAWRENCE

NAWCWD Public Affairs

Twins Roy and Rex Randolph were infants when their parents, James “Olen” and H. Willodine Randolph, moved to China Lake. Olen began working as an automotive mechanic in 1947, just four years after the inception of the Naval Ordnance Test Station, with his wife joining shortly after in 1953. November 8 marks not only 75 years of the Navy at China Lake, but for many like the Randolph family, it symbolizes generations of continued service.

From 1947 to 1974, Olen worked in Public Works and, for a time, at San Clemente Island, while Willodine began working as a math aid but retired in 1976 as head of staff in the Technical Information Department. Rex and Roy’s uncle, Neal Webb, worked as the business manager for the Earth and Planetary Sciences Division between 1960 and 1980 in addition to their aunt, Stlene Moore, who worked as a secretary in the Housing Division in the 1950s. Stlene’s husband, Homer, was a crane operator from the ‘40s through the ‘60s. Though none of these family members were originally from California, they made China Lake their home.

“They came to China Lake because jobs were available here despite the phasing out of defense work in many parts of the country after World War II,” said Roy, a second-generation China Lake employee. “I think a notable achievement of this generation of people was the way they honored their work and were glad to have steady employment. They enjoyed raising their families in a secure economic setting after growing up during the Depression.”

Both Roy and Rex worked on base through the “Work Experience Program” as seniors at Burroughs High School. Roy’s China Lake experience included work in the Research Department under Dr. Pierre Saint-Amand and Rex was an L.T.E. Thompson Award-winning weapons analyst. Before retirement, Roy served in the Aircraft Survivability Division and Rex was inducted into the Naval Air Systems Command Fellows program in addition to receiving the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award.

“I’ve always liked science and technology and was impressed with the technical people and the technical work here, so I returned when I graduated from college.” Roy said. “My Sunday School teacher was one of the head physicists in the early Sidewinder program.”

Roy’s wife, Lorraine, according to their son Tim, “met Roy in college and left behind her idyllic life on the beaches of Southern California to help him raise their family before going to work [at China Lake], herself.” Lorraine began her career in 1981 as an operator at the Weapons and Tactics Analysis Center and gained a role as an acting integrated product team lead before retiring in 2009.

“I certainly feel pride and gratitude to be part of a tradition of people supporting our warfighters,” said Tim, who currently works as a software test lead for the Combat Environment Simulation Division. “I hope future employees enjoy the same sense of satisfaction and pride as my family and I have felt working here, and that they will be able to contribute to and preserve the tradition of excellence that continues to distinguish China Lake’s role in our national defense and security.”

After 15 years in the private sector, Tim’s wife, Jeane, began working at China Lake in 2015 as a technical writer and software tester and currently serves in Weapon Systems Mission Planning. In Ridgecrest, she said, she feels like she can breathe, which is a contrast to the larger cities she’s lived in previously.

“One of the reasons we originally came to Ridgecrest was to be closer to family and leave the overcrowded city life,” she said. “We also continue to stay because my husband and I are both proud to help – in some small part – keep the U.S. Navy and other military warfighters safe and returning home.”

“I think NAWCWD is an amazing employer,” said Philip Randolph, Tim’s cousin and additional third-generation employee. “I think the organization, as a whole, supports employees and that inspires me to give my best in return.”

In addition to providing clerical services and office manager training and support, Philip supports the Command Artifacts historical preservation program and, in the same spirit of conserving China Lake’s history, his father Rex is a docent and volunteer for the China Lake Museum. Philip’s brother, Jim, did not work at China Lake, but served in both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force Reserves. However, Philip’s sister-in-law, Tara Randolph, has worked at China Lake for 11 years supporting the contracts office. Tara is a second-generation China Laker succeeding her father, Charles Marrs, who was a laser physicist before retiring in 2017 after 37 years of service. Marrs was also a recipient of the L.T.E. Thompson and Michelson Laboratory Awards in addition to being a Naval Weapons Center Fellow inductee.

“‘Home’ is what comes to mind when I think of China Lake,” Tara said. “I like to think that, while I may not be doing the exact same thing that my father or father-in-law did, we all have supported the warfighter, which brings me a strong sense of pride in our American mission.”

Story First Published: 2018-11-09