Charles Leslie Britt
Charles Leslie Britt
  • July 22, 1930 - March 18, 2017
  • Williamsburg, Virginia

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Charles Leslie "Les" Britt, Jr., 86, died comfortably at home on March 18 after a brief decline. Born in Goldsboro, NC, on July 22, 1930, he was the only child of Charles Leslie Britt, Sr. and Martha Lee Borden Britt. He received his undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University.

Les served in Korea in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1952-53, and then went to work for General Electric, where he oversaw the payload of the first successful Atlas missile launch at Cape Canaveral. In 1962, he joined the Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina, where he researched and designed radar techniques, electronic systems, and large computer applications. His analysis of aircraft collision hazards at the Atlanta terminal area won the 1971 IEEE M. Barry Carlton award.

In 1979, Les founded the RTI Virginia Office, and worked with NASA, the FAA, and manufacturers to develop, test, and certify the lifesaving airborne wind shear radar detection system that is now required for all U.S. commercial aircraft. He received many awards for this work, including a 1994 Laurels award from Aviation Week & Space Technology, and the NASA-Langley Research Center Guidance and Control Division's 1990 Best Paper award. In November 2016, he was inducted into the North Carolina State University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Alumni Hall of Fame.

Les was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather who was exceedingly proud of his talented and accomplished family. His many interests included flying, sailing, bicycling, model aviation, astronomy, photography, amateur radio, world traveling, and particle physics. He was an Elder at Jamestown Presbyterian Church. Les treasured every friend and neighbor, especially his buddies in the Goldsboro breakfast group, Colonial Virginia Aeromodelers, and NASA retiree's poker group. He wrote a memoir for his children, "Memories of My Dog Spot and Other Stories," in 2015, updated in January 2017.

Survivors include his wife of almost 38 years, Julia B. "Julie" Leverenz; sons, Charles Leslie Britt, III (Sherri) and Charles Edward Britt (Rosemary) of Wilmington, NC; daughter, Eugenia Britt Quackenbush (Michael) of Chapel Hill, NC; granddaughter, Jessica Britt Edwards (Tanner) of High Point, NC; great-granddaughter, Everly Marie Edwards of High Point; cousins, Sally Borden Worrell (George Anthony) of Morehead City, NC and Thomas Cox Borden (Sara Frances) of Raleigh, NC; and former wife, Gene Overbeck Britt of Southport, NC.

A memorial service will be held at Jamestown Presbyterian Church, Williamsburg, on Sunday, April 9, at 3:00 p.m. Inurnment at First Presbyterian Church of Goldsboro, NC, will be at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Jamestown Presbyterian Church, 3287 Ironbound Road, Williamsburg VA 23188, or The Salvation Army, 151 Kristiansand Dr. #109, Williamsburg VA 23188.

Online condolences may be shared with the family at

Arrangements under the direction of Nelsen Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA.