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Jan. 25, 1925 – Dec. 30, 2013

Clifford F. Berninger, Ph.D., of Williamsville, who led the development of the re-entry heat shields used on Apollo missions to the moon, died Monday in Hospice Buffalo, Cheektowaga. He was 88.

Born in New York City, he attended Brooklyn Technical High School and graduated from Columbia University under the Navy’s V-12 program during World War II.

After the war, he earned his master’s degree from Pratt Institute and his doctorate from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute.

Dr. Berninger was among the first class of scientists and engineers trained under the Atoms for Peace program and had a long career in the aerospace industry. He was an engineering executive at Bell Aerospace.

Dr. Berninger lived in Massachusetts and Chicago before moving to Williamsville when he joined Bell Aerospace in 1967, first as vice president for research and development, then vice president for engineering.

His wife of 47 years, Mariea Clare Johansen Berninger, died in 2004.

Survivors include three sons, Mark, Donald and Robert; a daughter, Ann Unterberg; and eight grandchildren.

A memorial service will be private.