Maurice R. Commanday, an innovative engineer in the aircraft industry, a veteran of World War II and Israel's War of Independence, and an active supporter of the Freedom of Religion movement in Israel, died July 23 at the age of 84.
After graduating from New York University, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941 and rose to the rank of major. In 1948, he went to Israel and was instrumental in developing the infrastructure for aircraft maintenance in the fledgling Israeli air force. He served at the Ramat David airbase as chief technical officer and there met his wife, Ruth Goldman, a nurse and fellow American volunteer.
After returning to the United States in 1950, he developed an innovative process for coating metal to high heat resistance, which was used on the Apollo moon landing module in 1969.
After his initial retirement from business life in 1983, Commanday concentrated on his leadership roles in the American Technion Society, in the movement for Freedom of Religion in Israel, and in numerous local community projects. In 1994, he started the Fatigue Management Company, introducing a novel technique for testing wear in critical jet engine parts.
He is survived by his wife, Ruth; daughters, Karen Jouannaud, Chana and Dr. Ramah; and son, Frank. A memorial service was held Aug. 2 with Rabbi Ron Schulman of Congregation Ner Tamid officiating. -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor