Grace Corrigan at the groundbreaking for the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center with Alan Shepard’s daughters Laura Shepard Churchley and Julie Shepard Jenkins
Grace George Corrigan, Christa McAuliffe’s mother, passed from this Earth on Thursday, November 8 at age 94 - 28 years after the passing of her husband Edward Corrigan and almost 32 years since the loss of her daughter Christa aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, leaving behind her daughters Lisa Bristol and Elizabeth McAuliffe, her sons Christopher and Stephen McAuliffe, nine grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and friends, colleagues and admirers from all over the world. She was a delightful person, an artist, author, and teacher who dedicated her life to completing her daughter’s mission to educate and inspire. She traveled widely, talking with children and adults all over the U.S. about Christa’s mission, space exploration and working hard to achieve one’s dreams.
She was a wonderful friend to the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. I first met her when she came to what was then the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium for a special event with the U.S. Postal Service, celebrating the issuance of U.S. stamps commemorating space exploration. When, several months later, we first began thinking about expanding the planetarium into a science museum dedicated to both Christa McAuliffe and Admiral Alan B. Shepard, Jr., I wrote her to see how she would feel about her daughter sharing the dedication of our museum-to-be with Shepard, America’s first astronaut, her fellow New Hampshire space pioneer. Grace called and told me, “Alan Shepard was Christa’s hero. She would be absolutely delighted to share the dedication with him.”
Thus reassured, we began the decade-long process of creating the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. Grace Corrigan was with us every step of the way, joining us alongside Alan Shepard’s daughters at the groundbreaking and speaking at the March 6, 2009 grand opening of the Discovery Center dedicated to her daughter and her daughter’s hero. She brought to the opening a photo of Christa, piano sheet music from when Christa was learning to play piano as a child and Girl Scout pins for us to display, along with a poster of the Mercury 7 astronauts she’d obtained at an event where the remaining Mercury 7 astronauts all became Grace Corrigan fans! Grace Corrigan was dedicated, inspirational, supportive and just plain fun. I feel privileged to have known her, and consider her name, Grace, to be an apt description of this truly lovely person.
Jeanne T. Gerulskis, Executive Director
Services were held Monday, November 12 at St. George Church in Framingham MA, followed by a private burial.