Earle Leo Messere

April 18, 1932 ~ October 29, 2019 (age 87)


Earle L. Messere, 87, of Marco Island, Florida and South Kingstown, Rhode Island, passed away peacefully on October 29, 2019 after a short illness. Earle, affectionately known as “Buster,” was predeceased by his beloved wife of 57 years, Barbara Eldridge Messere. He was the loving father of: Carolyn Messere, M.D., of Marco Island; Suzanne Messere of Palo Alto, California; and Stephen Messere of Newport, Rhode Island. He was predeceased by his parents William O. Messere and Eva Marie (Mathurin) Messere, and his siblings: Gloria Menard; William Messere; Lloyd Messere; and Dolores Mason.

Earle was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island and graduated from Mount Saint Charles Academy. He avidly believed in and pursued higher education, which included: a B.S. with honors in Engineering from the University of Rhode Island (URI); an M.S. with honors in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; an M.P.A. with honors from the University of Northern Colorado; and an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He also attended graduate school at the University of Connecticut. In addition, Earle was elected to Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi Academic Excellence Society, and Sigma Gamma Tau Aerospace Engineering Honor Society.

He served in the U.S. Army Reserves as well as an active duty tour as a second lieutenant in the 20th Engineering Battalion, and received an honorable discharge.

Earle was a long-time resident of South Kingstown, living in the Oaks before retiring to Marco Island and spending many summers in Green Hill. During his time in Rhode Island, he was very involved with the South Kingstown Lions Club, serving as the President and helping to spearhead the annual Heritage Festival. On weekends, he could be found working on his cars, headed to the hardware store, or completing one of his many beloved projects around the house, usually accompanied by one or more of his children.

Earle’s 50-year career as a research engineer included many accomplishments related to innovation, technological advances and leadership that established his reputation as a leading authority in the fields of undersea warfare and systems development both nationally and internationally. In 1961, he left private industry to work in torpedo research at the Naval Underwater Ordnance Station (NUOS) in Newport, Rhode Island, where he would spend the next 34 years. As he moved up within the organization and assumed increasing responsibility, Earle began to implement his vision of applying new technologies to deal with the complexities of undersea warfare. During this time, he gained recognition as a pioneer for introducing and developing digital workstations and large-scale computers into submarine warfare control systems, including a new era of systems integration and land-based testing prior to ship board installation in the Trident Submarine Command and Control system. In 1980, Earle joined executive management, or Senior Executive Service, when he was appointed as the Deputy Technical Director of the Naval Underwater Systems Center (NUSC) and then became the Technical Director two years later. NUSC was subsequently renamed the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) when additional responsibilities and locations were added to the program under Earle’s leadership. He retired from NUWC in 1995, and then took a position as a consultant at KPMG.

During Earle’s Directorship, NUSC/NUWC was recognized for many innovative achievements in the field of undersea warfare. This culminated in him receiving the Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank Award for leading his laboratory to the highest level of excellence in the Department of Defense, presented by President George H.W. Bush in 1989, his most notable recognition.

He was a long-time member of the Naval Submarine League and frequent presenter at the Submarine Technology Symposiums and the Clambake Sub Base Conferences. He was also the recipient of many internal and external awards, including: the Excellence Award for Science and Technology (URI), 1994; The DECIBEL internal award for Scientific Contribution, 1992; Navy Superior Civilian Service, 1989; Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award, 1987; Roger W. Jones Award for technical and managerial achievements (College of Public and International Affairs of American University), 1986; the Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award for excellence in management, 1985; the Knowles Award (American Defense Preparedness Association), 1982; and the Martell Technical Excellence Award (National Security Industry Association), 1982.

His distinguished career and notable contributions to undersea warfare were also recognized by Senator Claiborne Pell in the congressional record (102nd Congress Vol. 138, No 28 March 3, 1992).

Earle’s appointed collateral responsibilities included: the US Scientific Representative on the Governing Board of the NATO Underwater Research Center, in La Spezia Italy; the Chair of the Technical Team for the OPVAV international Navy to Navy exchanges with allied countries; chairing many high level panels for the U.S. Navy and the Department of Defense; a member of the Advisory and Strategic Planning Committee for the Partnership for Science and Technology as appointed by former Rhode Island Governor, Joseph Garrahy; a Trustee of the URI Foundation; a member of the Advisory Council for the Graduate School of Oceanography at URI; and a member of the College of Engineering Advisory Council at URI.

Earle loved tennis, cooking, pasta parties with friends and family, investing, computers, and being a handyman. His lifetime interests included: travel; photography; sailing; boating; designing and building furniture, and houses; skiing; and auto restoration. He and his wife Barbara traveled to many foreign countries over the years, as well as many work trips all over the world, including to China, Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, most of Europe, and the Arctic Circle. He and his family enjoyed a trip to Tuscany after he retired as Technical Director of NUWC.

Earle was a master of debate; passionate about research and knowledge; devoted to his philosophical tenets; and had a tendency to leave his unique mark on everything he touched, for which we are grateful.

His Beliefs:

“My Mother and Father were the guiding lights of my life.”

The USA is the Greatest!

Life Is Made Whole By Love, Family, Friendship, Fun, Loyalty, Challenges and Accomplishments.

The most difficult things to find in life are Truth, Justice, and Fairness. Searching For Truth Is Forever.

Always Question The Apparent. Integrity Always Counts. Commitments Are To Be Kept.

Seeking Knowledge is Endless.

Be Thankful for All the Blessings You Have Received.

Be the Best You Can Be.

Never Major In The Minors.

Never Give Up!

A private family service is to be held at Fuller Funeral Home in Naples, Florida. A future memorial service is expected to be planned over the coming months for both Marco Island and Marina Park in Wakefield, Rhode Island. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Earle’s name to either the URI Foundation or the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Foundation.

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