MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. — Guenter Wendt, the last man many U.S. astronauts saw before lift off, has died at his Florida home of complications from congestive heart failure. He was 86.
Wendt, an engineer who became known as the pad leader and controlled the "White Room," a sterile area that led to the spacecraft hatch, was known for his jovial yet disciplined care of the astronauts. He died Monday morning.
He came to Cape Canaveral in 1959 and worked on the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and shuttle launches.
His daughter Norma Wendt said her father was "extremely fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to make and be part of history."
Wendt retired in 1989 but recently traveled around the country to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Apollo 13.