Funeral services for Vincent U. Muirhead, 100, Lawrence, will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, May 11, 2019 at Southside Church of Christ in Lawrence. Vincent passed away Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at Lakeview Village in Lenexa, KS.
Vincent was born February 6, 1919 in Dresden, KS, the son of John Hadsell and Lily Irene (McKinney) Muirhead.
He attended the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating in 1941. Ensign Muirhead was stationed on the battleship, USS Maryland, and sent to Hawaii, where he served as Range Finder and Optical Officer in the Main Battery Plotting Room during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941. He left the USS Maryland in June 1943 for flight school in Dallas, Texas.
While in Dallas he met Bobby Jo Thompson, and they married on November 5, 1943 at the Naval Air Station Chapel in Pensacola, Florida. He received his wings in January 1944 and left for the Great Lakes for advanced flight training (carrier landings). He next served as a flight instructor at Vero Beach, FL before returning to the Pacific in August of 1944. He served as Assistant Flight Officer, Flight Officer and Executive Officer of Fighter Bomber Squadron 16 aboard the USS Randolph from August of 1944 through November of 1945. Before the war was over, he flew pre-invasion flights over Japan. After the surrender, his ship was assigned to protect incoming troops and to find and supply prisoner of war camps. He later remembered the rations they lived on for months at sea, “We had rice soup, rice pudding, baked rice, boiled rice daily. At least it had protein in it – bugs.”
Vincent attended Post Graduate School at the Naval Academy (1946-48) and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena (1949), earning the Aeronautical Engineering post graduate degree from Caltech. He specialized in supersonic aerodynamics. Subsequent postings included naval stations throughout domestic and foreign locations including California, Texas, Florida, Bermuda, the Philippines and Tennessee. In the course of his career he flew 34 types of aircraft including Hellcats, Wildcats, Corsairs, and helicopters.
After 24 years with the Navy, CDR Muirhead retired in 1961 and began his second career teaching at the University of Kansas in the Aerospace Engineering Department. Soon after the department moved into a new building, Learned Hall, where Professor Muirhead designed and built a subsonic wind tunnel. In addition to teaching, he consulted with Black and Veatch Consulting Engineers of Kansas City and NASA. He assumed chairmanship of the Aerospace Engineering Department in 1976 and continued in this role until he retired in 1989.
Vincent was an active member of the Southside Church of Christ in Lawrence, where he taught Sunday School, served as deacon (1969-1972) and elder (1972-1996).
Vincent loved to travel and one of his favorite trips was the Midshipman Cruise to Europe in 1938 on the USS Texas. He recounted, “Our first port was Le Havre, France for about 10 days. The highlight was a four-day tour to Paris. A Cooks Tour including train to and from Paris, 4 nights in the Hotel Lutetia, meals and tour of Paris for $40. Not only did I enjoy seeing much of Paris, we went to Le Bourget (airfield where Lindbergh landed in 1927) and took a flight over the city.” In retirement the Muirheads traveled frequently and trips included many destinations in the United States, as well as Europe, Australia, China, and the Middle East. Vincent’s last big trip was to Alaska in 2014.
When his wife’s health began to fail, Vincent became a tireless caregiver until Bobby Jo Muirhead died on September 29, 2013 only weeks before their 70th anniversary.
Survivors include his daughters, Rosalind Underdahl (Charley), Jean Sheryl, Juleigh Clark (Stephen); a brother, Keith Muirhead; sisters-in-law, Billie Thompson, Jean Thompson and Shirley Thomas (Mack); two grandchildren, four great grandchildren and nephews, nieces and cousins.
The family will greet friends from 6 – 8 p.m. on Friday, May 10, 2019 at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence.
The excellent care provided by Wilma’s Angels, Lakeview Village staff and Asera Care Hospice in his last month of life was greatly appreciated by him and the family.
Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Vincent U. Muirhead Award for KU Aerospace students, or Christian Family Services and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.