Birth:  Oct. 13, 1924
Cleveland County
North Carolina, USA

Death:  May 15, 2007
Kern County
California, USA

HEDGEPETH, Mary Tuttle Whisnant "Tut" of Bakersfield, passed away on May 15, 2007, after a short illness. Mrs. Hedgepeth was born on October 13, 1924, in Shelby, North Carolina, to Earl and Emeline Whisnant. Most of her youth was spent in Elizabethton, Tennessee. She attended the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina, in Greensboro, from which she graduated, with a degree in Mathematics, in 1946. She was a lifetime and devoted member of the Methodist Church. After her graduation from college, Tut embarked on an intriguing and rewarding career, which included an initial position as a "computer" for the N.A.C.A., the forerunner of today's NASA, at Langley Field, Virginia. In 1947, she transferred from Langley Field to the Air Force Flight Test Center, at Edwards Air Force Base (then known as Muroc Air Base) at which the bulk of her career was spent, working for both NASA and the Air Force. While at Edwards, Tut worked as the Chief of the Mathematical Analysis and Programming Branch. In that position she was privileged to work on projects involving many of our country's experimental aircraft, such as the storied X-1, and to work alongside many of the pioneers of the space program. Her role in the development of our nation's flight test program was such that she was featured in a recent Washington, D.C. study project on the history of women's roles in NASA. After 33 years of government service, Tut was asked by the General Dynamics Corporation to supervise testing projects on the AFTI F-16 research program, a position which she enjoyed for an additional twelve
years. Tut was married to John Hedgepeth, at the chapel at Langely Field, in August of 1947, and enjoyed nearly six decades of loving marriage. Most of their married life was spent in Lancaster, but following their retirements they moved to Bakersfield, to be closer to their grandchildren. Even in retirement, Tut remained busy, traveling, enjoying her grandchildren, and serving as a lap reader at Bakersfield's Discovery Elementary School, where she was affectionately known as "Miss Tut" for a period of twelve years. A great retirement treasure was the dedication to her of Discovery School's 2005-2006 yearbook, Memories. She considered a much greater treasure, however, the privilege of reading to and touching the lives of so many of Bakersfield's children. Tut is survived by her husband of 59 years, John, son Lee and daughter-in-law Rochelle of Modesto, grandchildren Pat and T.C. of Modesto, daughter-in-law Donna Livingston of Elk Grove, sister Emily Wier of New Tazewell, Tennessee, and sister Betty Farrar of Sarasota, Florida. She was preceded in death, sadly, by her son, Ted. 

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