Ralph Joseph Marak


Ralph Joseph Marak was born in Houston on January 14, 1938 to Joe L Marak and Agnes Brosman Marak.  He attended St Thomas High School, St Thomas University and graduated June 2, 1962 from The University of Houston with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering.


New Years Eve of 1962, Ralph went on a blind date with Sarah Lawrence and they were married in January of 1964.  They have 4 children, Carol Marie Marak Beason, Linda Susan Marak Ossa, Rebecca Jane Marak and Ralph Joseph Marak, Jr.  They also have 2 grandchildren, Wyatt Joseph Beason and Sarah Elizabeth Beason.


Shortly after graduation, Ralph began working at NASA – Johnson Space Center on June 18th of 1962.  With a career spanning 53 years, Ralph worked on every NASA mission except the Gemini project, and this was only because he was immersed in the Apollo missions.  His specific projects included contributions to the Lunar Roving Vehicle and extensive work on several versions of the Space Suit.  Ralph’s work with the Space Suit led to work with an external project by NASA to assist David Vetter (aka the “Bubble Boy”).


Ralph’s dedication to his work has resulted in many awards.  In 2000, Ralph received the Silver Snoopy Award – given to just 1% of the eligible NASA employees or contractors for their dedication and outstanding support to flight safety and mission support.


Ralph also enjoyed many hobbies away from work including sailing, skiing, fishing and duck hunting.  He had a lifelong passion for flying, though this was mostly focused on building / flying / crashing / fixing remote controlled airplanes.  Ralph also had a fascination for all things technology related.  He built the family television with transistors and vacuum tubes (adding on with aluminum foil and locking pliers).  His love of tinkering evolved into building computers and even more advanced remote controlled aircraft.  This inquisitiveness served him well at work where he was the point of contact on his team to successfully navigate the iPod Touch for an ongoing mission.


Ralph passed away peacefully on March 23, 2015 at MD Anderson Hospital after a brief battle with lung cancer.  He is survived by his wife, Sarah; his children Carol Beason (husband Ryan Beason), Linda Ossa (husband Alejandro Ossa), Becky Marak and Ralph (RJ) Marak, Jr. (wife Elaine Marak); and grandchildren Wyatt Beason and Sarah Beason.  He is preceded in death by his parents Joe and Agnes Marak.


A celebration of his life will be on April 7, 2015 at the NASA – JSC Gilruth Center from 11:30am – 2:00pm in the Alamo room.  The address is 18753 Space Center Blvd, Houston, TX  77058.  This facility is accessible to the public.  The American flag was flown at half-mast in honor of his service to NASA and will be presented to his family at the celebration.


A memorial tree will be planted in his honor at the JSC Memorial Tree Grove.


Donations are requested in lieu of flowers to the NASA College Scholarship Fund.

NASA College Scholarship Fund, Inc.

NASA/Johnson Space Center, Mail Code: AH 2101

NASA Parkway

Houston, TX 77058





  1. Did you know my dad? On Monday March 23, 2015, my dad, Ralph Marak, passed away peacefully at MD Anderson hospital. His final days were surrounded by family, laughing at all of our capers throughout the years. Stories about pets, cars, sailing and general family nonsense kept everyone’s spirits up.

    If you knew my dad, at some point he probably taught you something. He was so happy to pass along his experience whether it was from growing up in Houston, his schooling at St Thomas High, the boy scouts or his 53 years working for NASA. He was there for us, no matter what, as soon as you could get him to wake up. He was a marathon sleeper who could sleep anywhere, any time.

    When I was young, I truly thought that he had gone to some sort of “Dad School” where they teach you the answer to every question. He also displayed tremendous patience as I proceeded to ask him every single question in existence. Even as I began reading Stephen Hawking, he’d still give me his opinions and thoughts on the theories. We were the only two in the house watching Dr Who thinking “that would be so cool”.

    Because of my dad, I can:
    – Tackle almost any repair job in the house
    – Change a tire
    – Back up a trailer (both horse trailer and boat trailer)
    – Ride a motorcycle
    – Grill a perfect steak
    – Tie a bowline knot
    – Trust myself to do my best, even when I’m overwhelmed

    As great as my dad was, I still could not grasp using a slide rule. And I cannot believe that we went to the moon using that thing.

    Also, he wasn’t the best at giving sympathy when I began programming. It was just a stream of “you don’t know how easy you have it” or “when I started programming” and then some ramblings about punch cards and vacuum tubes.

    Still, as I ventured into the horse world, he was forever shuttling me to the stables and the feed store. He taught me about tying knots and which was best for certain situations. When I joined Explorer Post 2001 and learned about canoeing, kayaking and rock climbing, he was there to lend a hand as well. Dozens of us learned how to kayak roll in our pool, a skill I took with me to Texas A&M and taught even more people. I never even gave a second thought how he knew so much about climbing harnesses and how they might be similar to what the space program uses. He was always just Dad.

    Did you know my dad? If yes, I would love to receive any stories / memories / pictures that you have of him. If you didn’t know him, that’s too bad, because he was pretty darn great. You’re still welcome to join us to celebrate his life on April 7, 2015 at the NASA – JSC Gilruth Center from 11:30am – 2:00pm in the Alamo room. The address is 18753 Space Center Blvd, Houston, TX 77058. This facility is accessible to the public.

    Linda Marak Ossa
    • I beleive I have a old picture of RJ Marak with very large family it has nine kids mom and dad I have been trying to search picture took back of it said Mr and Mrs RJ Marak l I think by all the kids he might have been Mormon? Picture looks 1800-1900 call me at 817 319 3453

      ruth kitts
  2. Ralph was a mentor and a friend for many years. We worked on many projects together and I sought his counsel on many more projects. Ralph always took the time to listen to the problem and offer advice based on his many years of experience.
    You will be sorely missed Ralph, for your contributions to the space industry and your caring, good nature and friendly warmth to all that knew you.

    Pat Kerr
  3. Just wanted to share a few memories that I have about my Dad. The best memories that I have was when me and him would go fishing and duck hunting together. Just by ourselves. Father and son. You can imagine that things did not always go as planned but we always made it back home safe. The same cannot be said for the boat motor, fishing equipment and shot guns. Other good memories are when he would take me go cart riding at the Super Track and then playing video games with him afterwards. We built radio controlled airplanes together….rather he built and I watched. Glidders and one motorized plane. Nasa has a place where we could go and fly them and crash them and watch others fly and crash theirs. My Dad is the one who gave me my passion for fishing and duck hunting. My Dad taking me fishing on my birthday for black drum. Alnight fishing trips on piers and night fishing at the jetties with green lights that we made together catching trout and redfish as fast as we could. Going sailing together in the sunfish name Sara and with the whole family in his sailboat the Happiness Is.

    R.J. Marak
  4. Ralph was my tango partner at Jerry Roe Dance Studio around 1956-57. I went to Lamar High. He and several St. Thomas buddies learned to dance at Jerry Roe’s on Westheimer a few blocks west of St. Anne’s, and the free classes for boys entailed performing at various school dances. I vaguely recall dancing with the Roe group at St. Teresa’s, St. Anne’s, St. Vincent’s, and St. Thomas University. Wish I could remember names. I do remember Ralph, who was always good-humored and patient with my errors. He was a dear fellow. I’m so glad to hear about his wonderful life.

    Penny Bell

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