Cover photo for Rodrick  John Koutnik's Obituary
Rodrick  John Koutnik Profile Photo

Rodrick John Koutnik

November 3, 1919 — November 12, 2013

Rodrick John Koutnik, age 94 of La Grande and formerly of Vista, California, died November 12, 2013 at his home. Arrangements are entrusted to Daniels~Knopp Funeral, Cremation & Life Celebration Center.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Rod joined the aircraft industry in the early build-up to WWII. He became the lead tool maker on the P-61 " Blackwidow" America's first radar-equipped interceptor. When that project was completed he served as an Army combat rifleman in the European theater. He was awarded the Bronze Star for valor in a Ruhr Pocket firefight. After the war he designed components for early rocket development at Cal Tech, La Canada CA, most notably the Corporal missile guidance system. For the next three decades, his valve designs were the leading edge of defense and commercial industries. His liquid oxygen valves powered America's Space Shuttles into orbit. He retired to Mesa, AZ and later came to live with his family in La Grande. He had 50 year awards in both the Masonic Lodge and the Order of the Eastern Star. Preceded in death by his wife, Mildred Dobes Koutnik. Survived by Camille Gridley, Connie & Jim Voelz and his grandson Vernon Voelz.


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