On July 2, 2012, Cheney lost a great member of its community. A husband, father, decorated fighter pilot, Air Force test pilot, businessman, and professor, Alan Hale left an indelible mark on the many lives he touched and we were all fortunate to have known him.
Born in Providence, Utah, 1937 to Seymour (Bill) and Velda Hale, Alan was the eldest of seven children and grew up in the communities of Oakley and Payette, Idaho. After graduating high school in 1954, he entered the service as a pilot in the Idaho Air National Guard and soon transferred to the U.S. Air Force. While in Air Force pilot training in Bryan, Texas, Alan met his wife of 55 years, Mary Kaye Perkins, a Spokane native. Within three months the two were engaged and married the following spring in Spokane.
Six children (all boys), an adopted girl, and a host of military bases would follow. While serving as an Air Force flight instructor in Oklahoma, Alan earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering and became an Air Force test pilot. In 1964, the Hales moved to Edwards AFB where Alan worked for notable test pilot Chuck Yeager during the “Right Stuff” era. In 1968, Alan was sent to Vietnam. Flying close-air support for helicopters rescuing downed pilots, Alan earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal (first through fifth Oak Leaf Clusters) for aerial gallantry. Returning to Edwards AFB under base commandant, Buzz Aldrin (second man to land on the moon), Alan was a flight instructor for test pilots, including notable Washington State University graduate Dick Scoby, commander of the ill-fated Challenger shuttle.
In 1974, after Air War College and earning a master's degree in Business Administration from Auburn University, Alan was transferred to the Pentagon in Washington D.C. He was promoted to a colonel and worked in the Air Force's Research and Development Appropriations Department. Within the next four years he appeared before Congress on multiple occasions to seek funding for various military research projects before his retirement in 1978.
The family moved back to Payette to help Alan's parents with their business. While there, Alan started a computer business integrating a microcomputer with cash registers. A novel concept in 1979, the company was soon purchased by a large corporation. In an effort to relocate back to Spokane in 1981, Alan took a position at Eastern Washington University (EWU) and became one of the first computer science professors for the new Math and Computer Science Department. Alan spent 15 years teaching students the fine art of computer programming and microprocessor design.
While working at EWU, Alan and his students won a contract from NASA to create an onboard processing unit for the Space Shuttle program. This project spawned the creation of the electronics manufacturing company XN Technologies, Inc. (XN). XN grew quickly after it began developing audio-visual switching equipment under the brand name AutoPatch.
In 2006, with the company employing over 140 employees, Alan sold his interest in XN to AMX Corporation (AMX) of Richardson, Texas. To this date AMX continues to grow the AutoPatch division in the Cheney manufacturing facility.
After the sale of XN, Alan focused on his new company, XN Air, an aircraft fueling and maintenance facility located at the Spokane International Airport. Last year, when Alan's medical condition made it impossible to continue XN Air, the fueling portion of the company was sold to Ross Aviation and the maintenance was sold to Aviation Services.
Alan was a decorated war hero, test pilot, entrepreneur, and educator. Cancer brought down this man that enemy bullets could not. He passed away at his home in Cheney with his family at his side. Alan is survived by his wife Mary Kaye of Cheney; brother, Bill Hale Jr.; Sister, Barbara Wharton; sister Gwen Clem. son John Hale and wife Laurie Hale of Cheney; son Mark Hale and wife Jodie Hale of Cheney; son Phil Hale and wife Kathy Hale of Cheney; son Chris Hale and wife Cindy Hale of Anchorage; son Brian Hale; grandchildren Thomas and Justin Hale of Spokane; Jason Hale of Idaho Falls; Alex and Patrick Hale of Ripen, Calif.; Ashley, Madeline, and Jenna Hale of Colorado Springs; Codi and Gage Onda of Cheney; great grand-daughter Mia DeMaderios of Ripen, Calif.; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Alan is preceded in death by his son Steve Hale, daughter Brenda Hale, and parents Seymour and Velda Hale of Payette. Visitation was held Tuesday, July 10 at Cheney Funeral Chapel. A funeral service was held at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, 460 North 5th St., Cheney, WA 99004, Wednesday July 11, 2012 with a short reception following. A full military burial service was conducted at Holy Cross Cemetery, 7200 N. Wall Street, Spokane, WA 99208.