From the time Rick Husband could walk, he knew he was destined for the stars. He shared his passion with friends and family -- even his teachers.
"Kids have dreams, and that was his dream -- to be an astronaut," says Dr. James Lawrence.
But before Husband could fulfill his childhood wish, he went through years of education and training. Husband's Texas Tech engineering professor, Dr. James Lawrence, knew him on a personal level.
"He was an awfully nice guy. He did what he wanted to do. You couldn't ask for probably a better husband and a better father that he was," says Lawrence.
Husband invited Dr. Lawrence to his lift-off launch in January. Dr. Lawrence couldn't make it and says he regrets it deeply.
"Anybody who dies, you feel sorry for, you feel sorry for the family, but he was doing what he wanted to do though, so you can't be too sad about that," he says.
News also hit hard for Ed Jarman. He was William McCool's high school teacher at Coronado.
"Willie was one of those lighthearted boys that could see comedy in just about anything," says Jarman.
He also says McCool's quick wit and off the wall remarks earned him a new name, "Cool Willie," and it was in a dry way, you had to be wide awake or you wouldn't catch his comments, say it was one of those if you were dumb or weren't listening, you'd miss the joke in Willie's joke because he told them in a cool sort of way," Jarman says.
All joking aside, Jarman says Willie was truly one of a kind. He was dependable "Ol' Willie would take off and he would do the job." He was sharp "when the other professors and I didn't know a theory we'd check with Willie, he knew."
Jarman says he'll be missed. He says that he plans to start up a science scholarship fund at Coronado in memory of Willie McCool. If you're interested in helping out, you can call him at (806) 795-1730.