Madison - Donald Edward Michalski, age 77, passed away on Saturday, August 11, 2018.
He was born on May 2, 1941 in Gary, Indiana to Edward and Wanda (Maka) Michalski.
Don graduated from Bishop Noll Institute and Purdue University with a degree in electrical engineering. He came to Madison in 1966 to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Wisconsin. Don took two jobs to support his studies--one was as head waiter at Lakelawn Place on campus, where he met his future wife, Ann, and the other was at the UW Astronomy Department where he continued to work until his death.
Don was the designer of electronics for numerous sounding rocket payloads, the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO), the Wisconsin Ultraviolet Photo-Polarimeter Experiment (WUPPE), ground-based instrumentation for Washburn Observatory, the WIYN telescope and the High Speed Photometer (HSP), one of the original instruments launched in 1990 with the Hubble Space Telescope. He was the Program Manager and electrical engineer for the Astro WUPPE payload which was flown successfully on two Shuttle missions in 1990 and 1995.
Don was Associate Director of the UW Space Astronomy Laboratory for 16 years where he implemented advanced space astronomy research and development programs, provided program management within the Lab and acted as liaison with NASA project management at Kennedy, Marshall, Wallops and Goddard Space Flight Centers. Don semi-retired in 2000, continuing to work part-time on a wide variety of different projects for the Astronomy and other UW departments. He was currently working on the Star Tracker 5000 for NASA. Don was an enthusiastic amateur radio operator since getting his license in 1957--W9IXG. He was Wisconsin Section Manager for the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) from 1999-2015. He was very active in a number of "ham" radio groups including the Badger Weathernet.
Don was also a bicyclist, happiest on a tour of Western Dane County or attending the Annual Door County Century. He also biked to and from work every day, averaging 4000 miles a year. He combined his love of amateur radio and biking by organizing support for numerous public service events throughout southern Wisconsin.
Don is survived by his wife of 50 years, Ann; his daughter, Lisa Danielson (Mark) and his grandson, Mathias Danielson of Minneapolis, Minnesota; his brother-in-law, James Spanopoulos (Helen) of Chesteron, Indiana; and nephews, Frank (Sarah) Spanopoulos of Floyds Knobs, Indiana and Ed (Amy) Spanopoulos of Chesterton, Indiana.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Donna Spanopoulos.
A memorial service will be held at the Cress Funeral Home, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, August 18, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. A visitation will be held at the funeral home from 10:00 a.m. until the time of service.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the UW Carbone Cancer Center, uwhealth.org/donateuwcc.
Cress Funeral & Cremation Services
3610 Speedway Road
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