Cover photo for Dr. Edwin "Ted" Ellis Speaker's Obituary

Dr. Edwin "Ted" Ellis Speaker

June 24, 1928 — February 24, 2023

Mount Pleasant, SC

Dr. Edwin "Ted" Ellis Speaker


Edwin Ellis Speaker passed away on Friday February 24, 2023 in Mount Pleasant, SC. Ted Speaker was born in Washington, DC.  He was the son of Charles R. Speaker, an electrical engineer, and Clare J. Speaker, a schoolteacher.  Ted attended the Staunton Military Academy in Virginia, serving his last year as the Cadet Regimental Commander. He won a competitive appointment to the US Naval Academy.  Upon graduation from the Naval Academy in 1950, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force. After graduation week, he married Donna June Hendershot, who was the Naval Academy Chaplain’s secretary. During the Korean War, Ted was stationed in Japan and Korea. He held numerous assignments in missile and space R&D at Cape Canaveral, and later worked in scientific and technical intelligence at the Pentagon. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1970.

After retiring from the Air Force, Ted joined the Rand Corporation in Washington, DC, where he supported HQ USAF with strategic war game analysis.  He then returned to government service as an executive in the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he directed intelligence research programs in analysis of foreign weapons systems.  These studies contributed to important National Intelligence Estimates used in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) and in the formation of national defense policies.

Ted went on to work at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where he was Project Manager for LandSat, an earth-observing satellite reconnaissance system. He was selected to be on the NASA Planning Team for the International Space Station (ISS) program which was approved by President Reagan in 1984.  Moving to NASA’s newly formed Headquarters Program Office, Ted was Chief of Plans Integration for the ISS.

After retiring a second time from government service Ted and Donna moved to Satellite Beach, Florida, where life was much less hectic than it had been in Washington, D.C.  Ted taught graduate space science courses for Florida Institute of Technology, enjoyed golf, and playing violin in the community orchestra.  Donna did volunteer work for the orchestra and enjoyed lunches with the Red Hat Ladies. 

Ted earned a Master’s Degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Doctorate in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan.  He was a Fellow and past president of the American Astronautical Society, an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, was a member of the Association for Intelligence Officers, Military Officers Association of America, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, and the NRA.  He and Donna have resided at Somerby Retirement in Mount Pleasant, SC since 2015.  Internment is expected to be at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Ted Speaker is survived by his wife of 72 years, Donna; his son, Major Greg Speaker of Mount Pleasant, SC; his daughter, Dr. Gail Carr of Gainesville, Florida; his three grandchildren, Jeffrey Speaker, Jonathan Carr and Jennifer Carr; and one great-granddaughter, Carmen Valverde. 

Funeral Arrangements have been entrusted to the McAlister-Smith Funeral Home and Cremation, 1520 Rifle Range Road, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464, (843) 884-3833.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Edwin "Ted" Ellis Speaker, please visit our flower store.


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