Kitty O'Brien Joyner

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Joyner records and makes estimations concerning the operation of the drive component of a turbine in a wind tunnel at NACA Langley in 1952
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[top] Background

Kitty O’Brien (O. B.) Joyner (July 11, 1916 – August 16, 1993) – In a precedent-setting move, the NACA Memorial Langley Aeronautical Laboratory (LMAL) hired Kitty O’Brien (O. B.) Joyner in September 1939 as an electrical engineer (junior civil engineering aide), making her the first woman engineer hired by NACA Langley. Joyner worked for NACA and later NASA Langley for several decades and rose to the rank of Branch Head of the Facilities Cost Estimating Branch, Office of Engineering and Technical Services. She also managed several wind tunnels, including supersonic wind tunnels, before leaving NASA in May 1971. In addition to being a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, she served as an Honorary Life Member of the Engineers Club of the Virginia Peninsula. Joyner was also an organizer for the Charles Parish Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution and the recipient of the United Daughters of the Confederacy Winnie Davis Award. She graduated from Sweet Briar College in 1937. Interestingly, Joyner was the first female to graduate from the University of Virginia’s Engineering Program in 1939 and was granted admission into the UVA School of Engineering as a result of winning a law suit against UVA for possessing an all-male Engineering School prior to her lawsuit. Thus, Joyner became a trend setter in the academic ranks before becoming a trailblazer in the field of aeronautical research. While at UVA, she was the recipient of the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award.

Kitty was married to Upshur T. Joyner, who was a physicist at NACA/NASA Langley for 40 years and was best known for his research contributions at the NASA Langley Landing Loads Dynamics Facility (LLDF). Upshur retired from NASA Langley in 1971. Kitty and Upshur lived in Poquoson, Virginia, and had two children – a son, Upshur O’Brien Joyner, who tragically died of leukemia at the age of 47 on January 1, 1990, and a daughter, Kate Bailey. She passed away on Monday, August 16, 1993, at the age of 77 and her husband, Upshur, passed away on November 9, 1993. Upshur was 85 years old.

[top] Obituary

Kitty Joyner obituary
Obituary from the Langley Researcher News, August 27, 1993

Kitty O’Brien Joyner

Obituary in Daily Press August 20, 1993:

CHARLOTTESVILLE - Kitty O'Brien Joyner, 77, a former Peninsula resident, died Monday, Aug. 16.

Born in Charlottesville, Mrs. Joyner was a member of St. John's Episcopal Church in Hampton.

Mrs. Joyner attended Sweet Briar College from 1935-1937 and received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia in 1939. She also received the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award at the university.

She was a member of Chapter B, and later, Chapter AJ of P.E.O. and was organizing regent of Charles Parish Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1992 she received the United Daughters of the Confederacy Winnie Davis Award. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Colonists, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and was a member of Chi Omega at U.Va.

Survived her husband, Upshur T. Joyner of Charlottesville; and a daughter, Kate Bailey of Cismont.

Funeral at 11 a.m. Monday at St. John's Episcopal Church, Hampton. Burial in the church cemetery.

The family will receive friends after the funeral in St. John's Episcopal Church Parish House.

Memorials may be sent to P.E.O. projects or a favorite charity.

Arrangements by Lawrence B. Wood Funeral Home.

FOR THE RECORD - Published corrections ran Thursday, August 19, 1993. The obituary of Kitty O. Joyner in Wednesday's Local section omitted her husband, Upshur T. Joyner of Charlottesville, as a survivor. The city in which her daughter lives was listed as Charlottesville instead of Cismont. The incorrect information came from the funeral home.

[top] Further Reading

Wife of Upshur Joyner

Oral history at UVA

High Flying Women

Extraordinary Women Engineers

[top] Upshur T. Joyner Obituary

Husband- Upshur T. Joyner

Daily Press Nov. 11, 1993: CHARLOTTESVILLE - Upshur Tucker Joyner, 85, who retired in 1971 as a physicist after 40 years with NASA, formerly National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Upshur T Joyner (1908 - 1993) was born on August 14, 1908. Upshur was born into the Joyner family.

Upshur died in November 1993 at 85 years of age.

Upshur T Joyner's last known residence is at Poquoson, Poquoson City County, Virginia.

The data on this page comes from the official record for Upshur T Joyner in the SSDI (United States Social Security Master Death Index).

[top] Upshur O. Joyner Obituary

Daily Press Jan. 2, 1990

POQUOSON - Upshur O'Brien Joyner, 47, died Monday, Jan. 1, in his home.

Mr. Joyner was employed as a design engineer with Newport News Cablevision. He was a member of St. John's Episcopal Church, Hampton. He was active in amateur radio and was past president of Southern Peninsula Amateur Radio Klub. He was also a member of the Institute of Electric and Electronic Engineers. He graduated from Hampton Roads Academy, the Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kan., and from Old Dominion University.

Survivors include his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Upshur T. Joyner of Poquoson; and a sister, Gerald V. Bailey of Keswick.

A funeral will be conducted at 2 p.m. Wednesday at St. John's Episcopal Church by the Rev. Steven R. Rottgers. Burial will be in the church cemetery.

The family requests that expressions of sympathy take the form of contributions to the Leukemia Society of America or to the Poquoson Rescue Squad.

Lawrence B. Wood Funeral Home, Hampton, is in charge

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