Saul Ferdman, a retired Grumman executive who helped lead the Apollo lunar exploration program and the later development of postal service trucks, died Tuesday, his family said Wednesday. He was 88 and had been living in a nursing home in Westchester.
Ferdman, a 43-year veteran of the Bethpage-based aerospace company, started as a structural flight engineer in 1951, according to Grumman. He left as vice president of planning and development of electronics systems, his family said.
From 1961 to 1972, according to his official company biography, he held a number of key management positions in the Grumman space program, the keystone of which was the design and construction of the vehicles that landed astronauts on the moon during the Apollo program.
Ferdman was later vice president of government marketing for Grumman Allied Industries, a business unit that developed postal trucks and other non-aerospace products.
Ferdman lived in Massapequa Park and later Woodbury, said his daughter Susan Ferdman Parker of Briarcliff Manor. She said her father was an avid tennis player, stamp collector and lover of art and music. "He went to every Broadway show and was a subscription member of the Metropolitan Opera," she said. He also served as a guide at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, where his memorial service is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Friday.
A Brooklyn native, Ferdman was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World II, serving as a navigator on a B-24 bomber in the European theater of operations.
After the war he completed his college education, earning a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1947, and a master's degree in the same field in 1951, from New York University's Guggenheim School of Aeronautics.
In addition to Parker, survivors include three other children, Deborah Ferdman Drucker of Randolph, N.J., Sandra Ferdman Comas of Redding, Conn., and Richard Ferdman of San Jose, Calif.; and six grandchildren. Ferdman's longtime companion, Virginia Steibel, of Sands Point, died in November.
A private service was held Wednesday, followed by burial.