The son of Edna McDaniel and Henry Hay of Beaufort, SC, Preston spent his childhood in the low country around Beaufort, much of it outside on the river, boating, shrimping, exploring, and living the stories he came to be known for. At Beaufort High School he stood out as an exceptional athlete: he was the captain of the basketball team, quarterback of the football team and held state records in track. Preston received a Bachelor in Electrical Engineering from the Citadel, and subsequently joined the United States Air Force, serving from 1956 to 1959, earning the rank of Captain. In 1959, en route on a boat to Sweden to attend Lund University, he met Birgitta Grenvall , of Malmo, Sweden. They married in 1961. The couple moved to Paterson, NJ, where Preston worked for Curtis-Wright, designing a radar beacon for the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space missions. After a move to Florida and earning a Master’s degree in Operations Research from the Florida Institute of Technology at Indian Harbor Beach,
Preston worked for Pan American at Cape Canaveral on their range contract for NASA. The family then moved to Reston, VA, where Preston worked at Mitre Corporation. Three years in Holland followed, as Preston worked at the Shape Technical Center where he designed an advanced radar system for NATO in Europe. Returning to the US, the family settled in Reston for good as Preston returned to Mitre and then TASC, designing orbital satellite data collection capabilities. After retiring from TASC, Preston researched and built a cold-fusion prototype in his home workshop in the basement of the home they built on Lake Thoreau. He also continued to indulge in his lifelong passion for sports, playing basketball into his 80’s as a member of the Senior men’s (80 and up) basketball team, the Virginia Creepers. His team took the gold at the 2015 Senior Olympics in Minneapolis in 2015.The couple moved to Ashby Ponds in Ashburn, VA in 2018. Preston was a devoted family man and Birgitta was his lifelong best friend and soulmate. Together they built a comfortable life, enjoying world travel, their vacation home on Cape Cod, ballroom dancing, and their family. Preston particularly cherished his low country roots, and spent many hours teaching his sons and grandchildren how to fish, ski, and play good defensive basketball. His sense of humor, kindness and curiosity were touchstones for his family and his ability to connect with people of all walks of life earned him many lifelong friends. He loved to tell a good story and In 2015, he published “Buzzard’s Island”, a semi-autobiography of stories of his boyhood on the river and the life lessons he learned from those days. Preston demonstrated that with ingenuity, honesty and integrity, applied with sustained effort, his sons and grandchildren could achieve the success and accomplishment that would lead to a fulfilling and satisfying life. Preston lived a rich, full and exceptional life. He will be deeply missed by all who had the pleasure to know him. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Birgitta Grenvall Hay, a sister, Martha Hay of Florence, SC, two sons, Carl (Donna Goldsteen) and Andreas (Maya) Hay, four grandchildren (Daniel, Tyra, Connor and Jason) and countless friends he made over the years all over the world. A private memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations may be made to the Cancer Research Institute.

Posted in: Island Packet

Posted on: 2020-07-16

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