M. “Jay” Sussell passed away Jan. 9, 2017, in Bakersfield. He was 81.
Memorial services will be held at Wood Family Funeral Service in Tehachapi on Jan. 20, 2017, at 1 p.m. Interment will be at a later date at Bakersfield National Cemetery.
Jay was born April 3, 1935, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Albert and Beatrice Sussell. After graduating high school, having a strong passion for flying, he joined the Air Force in 1953 and, as a flight engineer, flew on B52s, B36s, C119s and C141s.
He served in Korea and Vietnam and was awarded a commendation medal for Meritorious Service. While in the Air Force, he earned a black belt in Judo, and later became a Judo instructor.
In 1958, he moved to California, beginning a career in aerospace technologies with Space Technology Laboratories, later becoming TRW. It was here in 1962 that he met and married his wife, Flo. Together they raised two children in Long Beach. While at TRW, he was an engineer in the lab that developed the lunar module descent engine (LMDE) for Apollo 11. He later went to college to earn his associate’s degree.
Jay has been a longtime, well-known resident of Bear Valley Springs in Tehachapi. He continued his career in the Air Force as a reservist until retirement as master sergeant, was a 32nd degree Mason, a Shriner and a Knights Templar. He was a past president of the Horseman’s Association in Bear Valley Springs, a member of the Buckaroos, a member of the VFW, a volunteer sheriff and policeman.
Jay, with his friend Geoffrey Braslow, spearheaded the establishment of the Tehachapi Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), for which they received recognition from the mayor of Tehachapi. He was extremely proud and supportive of his wife’s artistic abilities and accomplishments and was well known as “The Bartender” at First Fridays at the Treasure Trove (previously Crossroads).
Jay enjoyed tennis and water aerobics. He is the model seen in the aerobics instruction book “Water Wonder Works” by Marti C. Sprinkle.
Jay is survived by his wife, Flo Sussell; his two daughters, Martiese Herbage and Jaydene Brunson; two grandchildren, Matthew and Stephanie Herbage; his sister, Kayla Sussell; his brother, Michael Sussell and their children; and his favorite cousin, Sandra Knaster.
In remembrance, charitable donations may be sent to The Masonic Lodge #313, P.O. Box 1057, Tehachapi, CA 93581-1057. Wood Family Funeral Service has been entrusted with his care. For condolences, visit woodmortuary.net.