Aubrey F. Messing

Apr 24, 2018
Aubrey Messing

Camden — Col. Aubrey Francis Messing, Ph.D., passed away quietly April 17, 2018, shortly after his 90th birthday. Survivors include: his son, Brian and his wife, Tiare, of Rockland; their daughters Katherine of Hollywood, Calif., and Collette of Rockland; his son, Mark, and his wife, Sandi, of Boise, Idaho; his sister, Faye Miller, of Greenville, S.C.; a sister-in-law, Carol Messing, of Gold Beach, Ore.; the mother of his children, Shirley Messing, of Antioch, Ill.; and many nephews and nieces.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Aubrey P. and Agnes (Walker) Messing, brothers Guy G. Messing of Volcano, Calif., and Roger L. Messing, Oshkosh, Wis.

He had been an assistant scoutmaster, a member of his church council in Yorktown, Va., the American Chemical Society, the fraternal order of Free and Accepted Masons of Oshkosh Lodge No. 27, a Royal Arch Mason of Rock Island Chapter in Rock Island, Ill., a Royal and Select Mason of Webb Council in Muscatine, Iowa, a Knight Templar of Oshkosh Commandery, and a Medina Shriner in Chicago.

Aubrey was born March 22, 1928, and raised in Oshkosh, Wis. After dropping out of high school in his senior year, he served in the Merchant Marine (1945-46) in the “black gang,” with trips taking him to Rotterdam, Holland, and Genoa, Italy. In 1946 he enlisted in the Army for three years. Most of this time was spent in the Panama Canal Zone, where he was a diesel and automotive mechanic. He was discharged as a sergeant and enlisted in the Army Reserve. He was a sergeant first class in 1952 when he was commissioned a second lieutenant.

In 1972 he re-entered the active Army as a lieutenant colonel and was assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development and Acquisition at the Pentagon. As a full colonel, he reverted back to the Reserves in 1977 and finally retired with 41 1/2 years of military service in 1988. His military education included the Command and General Staff and the Army War colleges. He was always humbled to have been a World War II veteran, but wore his Victory and Meritorious Service medals with pride.

Between stints, he competed his high school education and received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1953, where he was a member of Phi Lambda Upsilon and Sigma Xi. This was followed by a doctorate  in inorganic chemistry from Northwestern University in 1957, and a master's in systems management from the University of Southern California in 1975.

Messing worked at the Oak Ridge (1957-59) and Argonne (1960-62) National Laboratories developing methods for the reprocessing of nuclear fuels, as a research chemist (1962-63) for Aerojet General studying the sensitivity of explosive materials, and for seven years (1963-70) as a professor of chemistry at Carthage College -- initially in Carthage, Ill., and then in Kenosha, Wis., when the campus was relocated. As part of his research, he authored a half-dozen highly technical papers that were printed in several national publications.

He then switched gears and worked (1970-71) to reduce attrition at a consortium of colleges before rejoining the military and moving to Vienna, Va., for his Pentagon tours (1972-77). Returning to the public sector, he became a program manager (1977-93) of fossil fuel and advanced generation research projects with the Empire State Electric Energy Research Corp. (ESEERCo) in New York City. He retired to Yorktown, Va., in 1993, where he remained until 2016, when he moved to Camden to be near his son, Brian.

There he settled into a quiet apartment with green hills, a waterfall, river, pond and a hundred ducks to contemplate. It was in this peaceful setting, surrounded by his loving sons and a daughter-in-law that he departed for that unknown country that awaits us all. Aubrey loved his sons very, very much and his love was returned manyfold. Everyone who met him liked him immediately. He will be deeply missed by his family and everyone who knew him.

Col. Messing will receive full honors with horse-drawn caisson, a military band, and 21-gun salute when he is interred in Arlington National Cemetery later this year. A Lutheran service and Masonic memorial will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, May 4, at Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home, 110 Limerock St., Rockland.

To share a memory or story with the Messing family, visit their online Book of Memories at

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