Debra Donham Barr

Profile Updated: July 10, 2010
Debra Donham
Residing In: Onalaska, TX USA
Occupation: retired NASA Tech Writer, Researcher, Supervisor
Children: Tre French, 2/9/76
Christina Alaniz, 8/15/80
Joseph Morgan Barr, 4/25/86
Military Service: USAF  
Debra Donham


Yes! Attending Reunion
Grand kids?

7, ages 14 to 1, all from oldest son

School Story:

Way too weird to tell - skipped 10th., drafted by University of St. Thomas at end of Jr. year, so never had a senior year, just a freshman year at university!!!! Built some of the best friendships of my life at Tiger High, many of which last until today.

Was in a blues band with Steven Brinker RIP, Mark Major, and Ricky Bawcom; the Mime Troupe (no apologies); drama freak specializing in Humorous Impromptu and Duet Acting (where are you Fred Hughes?); folk singer/songwriter.

My Mom bought my clothes or my Mam-maw made them - very short since they thought I had cute legs. Figari was constantly sending me home to change. In the days before my Corvette, my Mom would leave work as the Warwick Restaurant manager, come pick me up at school, then choose an even shorter skirt, and take me back! He finally gave up on hassling me about it.

Also, once in the grocery store, Mom saw Mr. Mathias (who lived just down the street from us) and walked right up to him and yelled, while pointing directly at him, "You little Worm!" I loved her for that.

Oh, and she actually helped us dig up the "DIP" sign down on Westview and stood guard while we planted it solidly in Mathias' front yard. He had a hell of a time getting it up!!!!

Do you still see/talk to/email/hang out/ with any classmates? Who?

Absolutely: Pamela Anne Beach (transferred to Memorial), Debra Haden ('70), Joe Estep ('73?), Jim Estep ('72), Brad Floores RIP, Steve Brinker RIP, Dusty Wakeman, Michael Austin Pritchard, Will Ware ('70).

Did you have any nicknames in school?

Joni Mitchell - see the picture on Don Arledges' wall. Too funny for words. But I was secretly tickled to death, since she was one of songwriting heroes).

What did you do right after high school?

Went to University of St. Thomas for 2 years, then joined the USAF.

I got tired of everyone belly-aching about Viet Nam (and belly-aching myself), so I put my money where my mouth was and joined the USAF as an electronic countermeasures tech on the FB-111 which were the swept wing fighter-bombers still in use in the first Gulf War. Greatest regret: women were not allowed to serve in combat zones. Greatest joy: my hanger was next to the the Thunderbirds' hanger, so ever coupla days was an air show.


After 2 years at St. Thomas, and my stint in the USAF, I've been and continue to be a continuous independent researcher and college student, specializing in math, electronic and avionics engineering, ecology and environmental sciences, writing, and all the other sciences from geology to meteorology. Can't get enough. Over 200 credits and no degree!!!!

What would we be surprised to know about you?

You might be surprised - I KNOW I DEFINITELY WAS - to know that from the USAF thru NASA, I won multiple awards, including YWCA Business Woman of the Year.

I could never work a regular office job, not that there is anything wrong with that. I'm just wired that whatever I do must contribute to the greater good. Even though I am an 80% disabled vet, and 100% disabled as far as Social security is concerned, I am working on an online degree in Environmental Management, specializing in salt marsh research. The salt marshes are the incubators of life on earth, and we are filling them in at an alarming rate to build beach-front condos. Also, we are poisoning them with our toxic run-off and things like the BP deep water rig blowout which could have been re-mediated immediately in so many ways that I won't go into them. And what does OBAMA do while this man-made horror is going on? He signs permission for another 127 deep water rigs in the Gulf. Who's in bed with Haliburton NOW????

Some of you may also be surprised to know that I've been married and divorced four times, sometimes to people you may know. I was also engaged to Brad Floores right before he had his fatal heart attack.

Cool things you've done?

The Challenger flight that we lost January 28, 1986, (the day before my birthday), was supported by my team of tech writers & editors, with me as the lead. We not only worked with these heroes, we ate, slept, & drank with them, including casual lunches at the NASA cafeteria & our pot-luck holiday dinners. Also a few beers after work at the local pubs.

There were CCTV monitors every 30-40ft. thru-out the buildings, & whenever there was a launch, everyone stood at attention from countdown to Max-Q, when we knew they were safe. Until January 28, 1986 (the day before my 33rd. birthday) when the tragedy happened. We stood there, unbelieving, in total shock. And then the tears came, & the sobs, & screams of terror. I was so depressed I didn't know whether to slit my throat or OD on something. But being 5 months pregnant with my youngest son whom I loved with all my heart, I checked myself into a 30-day womens' psych clinic. And I was not the only one. The rates of divorce, suicide, & substance abuse went sky high. NASA had to build an additional psychiatric counseling building within blocks & run a constant bus schedule for people to go during work hours. You don't work at NASA for the money, but for your love of & devotion to the Manned Space Flight Program.

Favorite Hobbies:

Singing, playing guitar, and writing songs (ANYONE SURPRISED?); writing epic historical and biographical poetry; deep sea fishing IN MY OWN Boston Whaler; exploring the islands and reefs of Galveston Bay and the Gulf, including Vingt et Un where the pirate Jean LaFitte supposedly hid his treasure (it is now called "Bird Island" and off-limits to humans, being covered with seabirds, including, but not limited to Roseate Spoonbills, Flamingos, and Pelicans. You can smell it before you get to it.)


Vicious Killer American Staffordshire Pit Bull Terrier Daisy May (know as Mardis Dawg on FB photo page).

Formerly, Buster the Wonder Dane who actually played practical jokes on humans. Example: when all the seats were taken in the living room, Buster would go to the door and scratch to be let out. When someone got up to do so, he quickly ran and took their place! We fell for it every time.

He lived to the ripe old age of 13, almost twice the life-expectancy for Great Danes. I miss him to this day, and can't wait to see him again on the other side. (Anyone who says dogs don't have souls is a bald-faced liar.)


I don't think many people realize how their lives have improved due to developments made during research & development for Manned Space Flight. For instance: pacemakers, in-chest defibrillators, telemetry medical devices that allow docs at the hospital to monitor your vitals while you are on their way in the ambulance, able to prescribe vital meds and procedures to keep you alive. Even such unnecessary but creature comforts like Tempur-Pedic and other "space foam" beds, cell phones, satellite phones, GPS, satellite and cable TV, and too many others to name.

See, everything that NASA develops is done with tax-payer dollars, so the patents belong to you & me. Whoever chooses to commercialize those patents can do so freely. How about your PC, laptop, or notebook? Or your cell phone or sat phone, satellite TV or cable TV which has a satellite downlink? None of these would have been possible without the research & development of the Manned Space Flight Program.

The thing that has always griped my butt is that NASA is very poor at advertising its developments. Therefore, no one cares if the NASA budget gets cut. Who needs to go back to the Moon, or Mars, or send unmanned research vehicles out into the Solar System & beyond? If you don't care when the President or Congress cuts the NASA budget, you are cutting your own nose off to spite your face. YOU will be the big loser in the end.

Debra's Latest Interactions

Hide Comments
Debra Donham Barr has a birthday today.
Jan 29, 2024 at 3:33 AM
Debra Donham Barr has a birthday today.
Jan 29, 2023 at 3:33 AM
Debra Donham Barr has a birthday today.
Jan 29, 2022 at 3:33 AM
Debra Donham Barr has a birthday today.
Jan 29, 2021 at 3:33 AM
Debra Donham Barr has a birthday today.
Jan 29, 2020 at 3:36 AM
Debra Donham Barr has a birthday today.
Jan 29, 2019 at 3:33 AM
Debra Donham Barr has a birthday today.
Jan 29, 2018 at 3:33 AM
Debra Donham Barr has a birthday today.
Jan 29, 2017 at 3:33 AM
Debra Donham Barr has a birthday today.
Jan 29, 2016 at 3:33 AM
Debra Donham Barr has a birthday today. New comment added.
Jan 30, 2015 at 5:23 AM

Posted on: Jan 29, 2015 at 3:33 AM