Road dedicated to Hlass at Stennis

Published 7:00 am Thursday, April 9, 2015

STREET UNVEILING: Former director Jerry Glass unveils the street sign named after him, along with John C. Stennis Space Center Director Dr. Rick Gilbrech. Photo by Ashley Collins.

SIGN UNVEILING: Former director Jerry Hlass pictured on left unveils the street sign named after him at the center, along with John C. Stennis Space Center Director Dr. Rick Gilbrech. Photo by Ashley Collins.


A dedication ceremony was held Wednesday at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center to pay tribute to Jerry Hlass. During the ceremony, Stennis employees, including Hlass, unveiled a street sign at the center honoring the former director, who dedicated 17 years of his life ensuring the center’s success.

“I’m really touched by all of this and I can hardly keep my emotions under control,” Hlass said to the crowd. “Over the years, I’ve received recognition as many of you know, but this award is special because of its permanent nature.”

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While Hlass’s NASA career spans 28 years, he spent most of his time working at the center.

In 1963, he supervised the center’s construction in Hancock County as the project manager. The center, which was originally called the Mississippi Test Facility, was created to serve as a test site for engines used in launch vehicles during the Apollo program. In 1976, he was named the center’s director. During this time, the center was called the National Space Technology Laboratories. He served as director for almost 13 years.

“Those years I worked at the center I spent working, worrying and leading this place to installation,” Hlass said. “I love this place and I love the people I worked with.”

During the ceremony, several key Stennis employees spoke about Hlass’s hard work ethic and kind spirit.

“He’s been one of our center’s biggest fans and we’re all riding on the legacy that he created,” John C. Stennis Space Center Director Dr. Rick Gilbrech said.

Afterwards, John Wilson, INFINITY’s science center executive director, spoke about Hlass’s contributions in the workplace as well as in his personal life.

Wilson said Hlass dedicated time over the years mentoring young people by helping them study for the college entrance exam.

“Armed with an idea, hope and determination, Hlass worked tirelessly as one of the center’s founding officers,” Wilson said. “He also embedded this following notion to many young people, including my daughter— if you work hard you can achieve anything.”

After the remarks and a commemorative video honoring his work, Hlass, accompanied by Gilbrech, unveiled the road sign called Jerry Hlass Rd.

While he’s faced numerous challenges to get to where he is today, Hlass said nothing is more rewarding than seeing his vision come to life.

“Back then, I thought the center should be what it is today and now it’s growing and its future looks extremely bright,” Hlass said.