William (Bill) S. Roe Jr. 1959 showing model rocket to USAF general

Bill had formed the Rocket Advisory Council in 1958 prior to joining forces with G. Harry Stine to create the NAR.

William (Bill) Steadman Roe, Jr.

And the Original Peak City Section
of the National Association of Rocketry

William (Bill) S. Roe Jr. NAR #13 was instrumental in helping G. Harry Stine in the founding of the NAR and was the original president of the Peak City Section. Bill was Contest Director at NARAM-2 and NARAM-11. 50 years later we honor his memory and are dedicating NARAM-52 to him and his family. Bill died in 1980 at the age of 63 and was survived by his wife Katherine Brewer Roe (Colorado Springs, CO) who, at the time, still resided at home at age 90. Six months after NARAM-52, Katherine passed on March 22, 2011.
Their four children are:
John Roe and wife Georgeanne (Haun) Roe (Uxbridge, MA)
Kathleen (Roe) Johnson and Husband: Craig Llewellyn Johnson (deceased) (Montrose, CO) Child: Robin Alanna Roe (Denver, CO)
Martin S. Roe and wife Karen (Zehm) Roe (Baltic, SD) Children: David Roe, Nathan S. Roe, Sara Roe and Kayla Roe.
Helen (Roe) Murphy and Husband Ronald Murphy (Colorado Springs, CO) Children: Kelley Lynn Murphy and Michael William Murphy Grandchild: Zoe Morton (daughter of Kelly).

Original Peak City Charter

USA and NAR, Mile-High and Peak City Section Flags, 1960

The two pictures above show Bill Roe instructing potential rocketeers in his basement and backyard. with Bob Barley (has Rocket Advisory Council on back of jacket). Empire Magazine.

Bill Roe Check Rockets for Safety at Peak City Range 1959

Bill Roe Discusses Rocketry With Air Force representitives from the USAFA
John Roe (on left), G. Harry Stine look on 1959.

Bill Roe hands out award at NARAM-2

The four color pictures above show Bill Roe as Contest Director at NARAM-4 Peak City range (stills from 16mm NAR Promotional Movie)

Bill Roe with Doug Hylton (Senior Champion) at NARAM-4

Bill Roe with Tom Rhue and Maj General Robert Warren at NARAM-4

NARAM-4 Bill Roe with Don Scott and Paul Hans with NARAM-4 R&D Trophy

Bill Roe Jr.with Charles Russell at NARAM-11

William S.Roe Jr (photo provided by his son, John Roe) NARAM-11

Without the efforts of Bill Roe there would be no NAR today.

Before the founding of Peak City section in early 1958 Bill Roe was an ardent and enthusiastic supporter of the NAR/MMA and model rocketry and wanted a safe supervised structure for his children to be involved in the science of rocketry.. without the risk of blowing their fingers off.

G. Harry Stine wrote in his Personal Memoirs that he was having trouble finding acceptance for model rocketry amongst organizations like the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). He wrote: The AMA board turned our proposal over to a committee that was chaired by a man who had been injured by an expiremental rocket in his youth. Because of this, the committee returned a negative report on the possibility of an AMA rocketry division. So the MMA (Model Missile Association, predeccesor to the National Association of Rocketry) had to go it alone.

...And the MMA would not have been able to do it without William S. Roe of Colorado Springs, Colorado. He had a son (John) who got interested in rockets. Sensing the hazards involved in making homemade rockets, Bill Roe formed the Rocket Advisory Council of the Pikes Peak Region to organize the activity and put it under supervision. He came to Denver with some of his young rocketeers to see what we were doing at Green Mountain Proving Ground on Saturdays, and he became a convert to model rocketry at once. When he attempted to get model rocketry started in Colorado Springs, he found both the police and fire departments ready to invoke a tough fireworks law. When told by the Colorado Springs Chief of Police that "No rockets will ever fly in this town", Bill promptly got the City Council to adopt the first permissive model rocket law in the United States. On August 12, 1958, Colorado Springs became the first city to enact such legislation. Today, that first law serves as the basis for all legislation adopted since and was the forerunner of the code for unmanned rockets (NFPA 1122L) of the National Fire Protection Association. Bill, as a trustee of the NAR sent out over 500 copies of this benchmark legislation by rewquest from other cities around the country wanting to pass or investigate similar laws.

Barbara Stine NAR #17 (Wife of G. Harry Stine) wrote in G. Harry Stine's biography, "The Model Missile Association is grateful for the work of Willaim S. Roe (NAR #13) of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"Harry and a contingent of model rocketeers came down to Colorado Springs on September 6, 1958 to help Bill Roe officially inaugurate the Peak City Rocket Range in Memorial Park. By the way, Bill Roe worked in the printing department of Holly Sugar in Colorado Springs. There just happened to be an extra supply of scrap pink paper and thus the first Safety Rules Book was printed on pink paper and the Model Rocketry Rule Book has been the Pink Book" ever since.

"There was confusion between MMI and the MMA. MMA was officially changed to the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) on October 25, 1958. The first NAR section was the Mile High Section" (Chartered on September 18, 1958).

...and of course, Peak City was the 2nd section. Now that there were two sections, a rivalry began and contesting became a major element of model rocketry, making it a challenging sport for many technically minded young men and women of that era. The first model rocket competition occurred between the Mile-High and Peak City sections on May 16, 1959 at Green Mountain proving Ground. Bill immediately became chairman of the Contest and Records Committee and he co-authored, with G. Harry Stine and Del Hitch, the first Pink Book establishing contesting rules and procedures. The first National Association of Rocketry Meet (NARAM-1) was held on the Hogback range on July 16-19, 1959 and had 24 contestants, with G. Harry Stine as the Contest Director. Vern Estes supplied the lumber for the launch area facilities. Bill Roe became Contest Director of NARAM-2 the following year down in Colorado Springs on August 18-21, 1960 and there were two contestants that were out-of-state. Bill served on the NARAM staffs organizing NARAM-3, NARAM-4, NARAM-5, and NARAM-6 and was again a contest director for NARAM-11.

Bill Roe served as an elected trustee until 1964 when he was elected an Honorary Trustee. He was Vice-President of the NAR from 1961- 1964.

Bill Roe was one of those people who, in the early years, kept the NAR in business through his actions. He managed the printing shop for Holly Sugar Co., and it should come as no surprise to learn that nearly all of the early membership brochures, membership blanks, letterhead, envelopes, contest forms, and the Pink Book manage to come out of that print shop - because Bill worked late and on weekends, using scrap paper or leftover parts of a print run to produce necessary NAR printed materials. He subsidized the printing for many years.

When NAR headquarters moved into the Stines basement in Littleton in September, 1958, Bill Roe brought an ancient Model One Addressograph and a equally ancient addressograph Mailing Plate Embossing machine from a Holly Sugar plant that was closing down in Lamar. These machines were used to print the Model Rocketeer which were subsequently mailed to all NAR members. This process continued up through July, 1964. When the Stines moved from Littleton to New Canaan, Connecticut in July 1960, Bill took over the temporary reins of the NAR in Colorado Springs until a new headquarters could be established on the East Coast.

Mike Konshak (the NARAM-52 Contest Director) recalls being a member of Peak City from 1959 through 1961. He writes, " I was 13 when I joined the NAR and Peak City. Steven Kushnir was my best friend at East Junior High school in Colorado Springs and he got me started in model rocketry. Mr. Roe was like a father figure to every kid who came over to his house on Weber Street. I would walk 3 miles to get to the Roe house where I would be taught (by Bill's son John) how to turn nose cones on the lathe in their attic. There was another lathe dedicated to wrapping body tubes with a 3/4" I.D. out of card stock. We built everything from scratch in those days. Estes motors, only up to a B impulse (A8-3, A8-4, B8-4 and B8-0), cost us 25 cents each and we would take them from the range box as needed and leave a quarter behind. Everything was on the honor system.

"Bill was very conscientious about safety and was especially driven to make sure that everything 'appeared' safe as well. One time , at the range alongside the Garden of the Gods Road in Colorado Springs (this is now a Hewlett-Packard facility) I wore a helmet that I was given as a 'junior fire fighter' when we lived on the Air Force Academy. I had painted it flourescant orange, and carefully hand painted the NAR logo on it. I couldn't afford the special red or orange shirts that some of the older kids wore, so I was real proud of my helmet. Unfortunately, as soon as Bill saw it, he made me take it off and hide it. He said a 'hard hat' type helmet indicated a dangerous environment and he didn't want any visitors to get the wrong idea about model rocketry. (safari type pith helmets were allowed).

"We were not allowed to fly any bird we had built from scratch until we had shown the RSO a 1:1 scale mechanical drawing of our rocket with the dimensions along with the locations of the center of pressure and center of gravity to insure the rocket would not go "ape". The altitude of our flights were determined using optical theodilites (which I found very difficult to use) and the data was calculated using slide rules. This background prepared me very early on for a career in mechanical engineering. Because I was not very good at tracking, I would be relegated to chasing and returning rockets on my shift. Yes, that was an official job assignment in those days and it was the most dangerous as we could encounter rattlesnakes on any given day!

"Although I left the NAR when I got my first job at 14, my experiences with Peak City and the guidance I received from William S. Roe stayed with me my whole life. I was able to attend NARAM-2 and -3 as a kid, so NARAM-52 is my way of 'paying it forward' as a tribute to Bill Roe."

Bill was a gruff-sounding, no-nonsense man with an incredible sense of honesty, sportsmanship and fair play. He will be remembered with fondness by those who knew him and we probably wouldn't have had the NAR we know without Bill Roe.


Peak City Section Photos/Ephemera (1958-1963)

Pictures from newspaper articles
provided by John Roe from the Roe family scrapbook.

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Frames from 16mm NAR promotional film c1963
provided by John Roe.

From past publications of American Modeler Magazine

NARAM-2 Launch Control

NARAM-2 - 12 year old Mary/Merry Ann Koepke took top honors in class 1-B altitude. She was the first female to be in the Peak City section.

NARAM-2 Rick Tydings, 14, holds scale replica of "Terrapin" sounding rocket.

NARAM-4 Charlie Hans checks Class F Scale Altitude entries on launch rods.

NARAM-4 winners from the East Coast and their birds which brought home trophies and ribbbons from Colorado Springs. Gordon Mandell, Paul Hans and Don Scott, 15, all from Port Washington, NY

NARAM-4 - Innagurating the 2nd annual model rocket championships, Colorado Springs Mayor William Henderson (center) presses switch to launch the 1st rocket of NARAM-2. Clay Banta (L) and John Roe (R) observe.

Major Ed Stull and Major Ted Walford brush of the dust of the awards awaiting NARAM-4 winners.

The USAF mans the NARAM-4 Launch Control. Capt. David Bell, Capt. Bryant Thompson, Capt. John Barnes and meet director, Capt. Vern van Vonderen.

Manning Butterworth (Minnisota) at Estes Display at NARAM-4, manned by Brent Norlem, Bill Simon and Vern Estes.

USAF's "Red" Thompson checks Centuri exhibit with Arizona firm's Leroy (Lee), Kenneth and Betty Piester

Vern Van Vonderen CD NARAM-4 (1963)

NARAM-4 Coaster's Jim Jackson shows models to USAF's Dave Bell

NARAM-2 Lynn Ericson demonstrates his custom Launch Panel

NARAM-4 Range Head

From Bill Roe Family Scrapbook

William S. Roe Family Picture Collage

William S. Roe Jr as a U.S. Army Corporal in the 66th Engineer Topographic Company Japan

William S. Roe Jr as a U.S. Army Sergaent in the 66th Engineer Topographic Company Japan

William S. Roe philosphy handwritten to son, John
John remembers several of his father's quotations that helped to guide him in life. One was concerning vendors/mechanics: "Quality, cost or honesty - pick two".

William S. Roe Colorado Springs City Councilman 1961-1967

William S. Roe Colorado Springs City Councilman Plaque

William S. Roe Jr (photo provided by his grandson, David Roe)