Leo A. Grosbier

Leo A. GrosbierLeo A. Grosbier, parachute expert, China Lake Museum Foundation director and longtime Ridgecrest resident, passed away peacefully on July 17, 2019, surrounded by his loving family. He was 85.

Leo had a 50-year career in parachutes and other survival equipment, completing 97 jumps during his 20-year Navy career that included service as an aircrew member on the A3D and P-2 aircraft, and tours in Korea, Vietnam and Hawaii.

Highlights of his Hawaii tours included supporting Regulus missile testing, and a daylong test cruise on a submarine that turned out to be one of the Navy’s first operational nuclear submarines.

After retiring from the Navy, Leo worked in the private sector for 10 years as the quality assurance manager of Irving Aerospace, Inc., “the largest parachute company in the world.” During his time there, he helped test and design an escape slide for commercial airplanes and made the first whitewater raft out of Kevlar.

Leo was recruited to China Lake to provide direct support to the Navy and Marine personnel that maintain parachutes. As a part of that support he designed parachute riser covers for NACES and other parachute systems used on the F-14, T-45 and F/A-18 aircraft and established the first data base for parachute assembly.

His co-workers nicknamed him “Da Vinci” after Leonard Da Vinci, the inventor of the parachute.

While at China Lake, he also performed training for the repacking of parachutes.

Leo was proud to say that “I’ve had 17 of my parachutes used, so I’ve saved 17 lives.” Leo retired from China Lake in May 2002.

Leo has lived in Ridgecrest since 1982. After his 20-year career at China Lake, he worked for many years as a docent at the China Lake Museum, eventually joining the board of directors for the China Lake Museum Foundation. He assisted in designing a pending parachute exhibit and spent many happy hours among his friends there.

Leo was preceded in death by his parents; his first and second wives, Margaret Dorn and Lorene Clark, respectively; and his daughter Felicia Moss. Surviving him are his wife Judy, his daughter Candy, eight grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and the many friends he has acquired over his long lifetime.

A viewing will be held July 31 from 4-7 p.m. at the H.K. Holland Memorial Chapel. Funeral services will be held Aug. 1 at 9 a.m. at Holland & Lyons.

Interment with full military honors will be at the Riverside National Veterans’ Cemetery.

— Submitted by the family of Leo Grosbier

Story First Published: 2019-07-26