Vachel Patrick Dowler, 66, of Parker, Colorado died unexpectedly on January 11, 2023 at UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
Pat, as he was known by his family and friends, was born September 13, 1956 in Mount Vernon, Illinois. He attended Mount Vernon Township High School where he participated in the Mathematics Team, French Club, lettered in Basketball, and was a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship competition.
After graduation, Pat was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Naval Architecture in 1978 and served in the U.S. Navy for the next 10 years. While in the Navy, Pat served in a Submarine Squadron and his job specialties included Operations Officer, Division Officer, Information Systems Officer, Main Propulsion Assistant, and Technical Instructor. He received a Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, and National Defense Service Medal. He also received a Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, a Battle “E” Award Ribbon, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. Pat achieved the rank of Lieutenant in July 1982. In September 1988, he separated from the Navy with an Honorable Discharge and began his career as a Propulsion Engineer in the Aerospace Industry, working for General Dynamics (GD) in San Diego, California.
Pat moved to Colorado in 1995 when his job moved to Lockheed Martin (LM) in Littleton, Colorado. In 2004, he was recognized as the Atlas Program’s Certified Principal Engineer of the Year for his Solid Rocket Motor technical accomplishments. Pat was working on the Atlas Launch Vehicles when the merger between LM and Boeing resulted in the formation of United Launch Alliance (ULA) in Centennial, Colorado. Pat retired from ULA and when he wasn’t being a real-life Rocket Scientist, he enjoyed woodworking, cooking, and collecting HO model trains.
Pat is survived by his sister-in-law, Marjorie Dowler. Preceding him in death are his father, James Clayton Dowler, Sr.; his mother, Katie Barbara Francis Dowler; his brother, James (Jim) Clayton Dowler Jr.; and his sister, Ollie Karen Dowler.
Pat’s ashes are being laid to rest in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.