Around 1955, the Federal Communications Commission showed up at a farm on Grimes Avenue, a country road in Modesto, California, looking for an unauthorized radio broadcasting a signal. They found our dad, who built a radio and connected it to a barbed wire fence as the antenna. No telling what he was broadcasting, but the FCC “shut me down”, Dad said. Thus began a pioneering life in the radio frequency and microwave industry. Dad passed away on March 1, 2023 of natural causes. He was 81.
Self-made from that moment, Daniel L. Cheadle, Sr. went on to earn his Bachelor of Science (1967) and Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (1970) from San Jose State University, where after a lifetime in RF design he would be honored with a lab in his name in the College of Engineering. Dan graduated in the class of 1959 from Modesto High School, where he competed in swimming and track, then he studied at Modesto Junior College before transferring to SJSU. Having moved to the Santa Clara Valley when it was still full of orchards as only Jack London could describe, Dan excelled in a career designing RF & microwave amplifiers. These electric components are so small each was manufactured under a microscope, and so powerful and quality built they were used in every Space Shuttle mission, dozens of spacecrafts, fighter jets, guided missiles, and military land and sea vehicles. Dan’s amplifiers are used in the GPS satellites we all use for guidance, and are used for highly sensitive signal processing applications, such as ultra-low frequency antennas deep in the oceans.
In 1987, after more than 20 years in the RF and microwave world working for Lockheed, Relcom, and Watkins Johnson, Dan started his own company, Silicon Valley style – in his garage in San Jose, naming his company Cougar Components Corp. He grew Cougar with the help of his sons, Danny and Shawn, and his long-time colleague and friend, Larry Wilkinson, along with so many other fine employees. After nearly 20 more years, the company merged with Teledyne Technologies, Inc. The components Dan designed continue to be sold and used for world class missions. With prodigious work ethic, Dan worked at Teledyne Microwave Solutions until he passed.
Passionate about RF and microwave design, Dan also excelled in home audio design, using vacuum tube amplifiers in each of his home audio designs. He loved music and especially playing pristine vinyl records on his high-end audio systems. He would host friends and family for listening sessions, demonstrating the audiophile-like sound coming from his analog systems versus the same music played on compact discs. Dan had a lifelong passion for auto racing, living American Graffiti “greaser” car style, stretching from his teenage years in Modesto when he rebuilt engines into hotrods, including his prized 1955 Chevy, to his later years when he competed in amateur Formula F4 races at Laguna Seca. He loved whitewater rafting, journeying with friends and his sons to float the powerful rivers of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Colorado River, and the Arkansas River through the Royal Gorge. Dan was a fantastic softball pitcher, leading his Good Grief team to championships, and he enjoyed playing flag football, and playing “giant squid” on the floor with his grandchildren. Dan also enjoyed skiing for over 35 years, especially with his sons, and he recently completed a ski trip to Colorado at 81 years old!
Preceding Dan in death were his parents, Donald and Hazel (Willard) Cheadle (Hazel passed when Dan was just 19), and his three sisters, Donna, Marilyn (and brother-in-law Bob Buckner) and Rosemary. Dan married Linda Wampler in 1963, and they had three sons, Danny Jr., Shawn, and Jason, of which Danny Jr. predeceased Dan Sr. in 2008, and both others survive him. He later married Nancy Atherton in 1988 and they had two sons; Chris and Michael, who both survive him. Also surviving him are Dan’s grandchildren and daughters-in-law: Danny’s wife Anna, and their children, Stephanie, Natalie and Eason; Shawn’s wife Lora, and their sons, Connor and Cody; Jason’s wife Jennifer, and their children Preston and Corina. Born to Marilyn and her late husband, Bob Buckner, also surviving him are his niece, Julia, her daughters Erica and Tiara, and his nephew Rodger. In addition to Larry, Dan is also survived by some of his very dear friends: Barry Bakner, Clyde Campbell, Bob DeBoo, Doug Lockie, Tony Wade, and Tom Wilson.
A viewing will be held on March 22, 2023, from 4 – 6 p.m., at Darling Fischer Chapel of the Hills in Los Gatos, California. A celebration of life will be held March 23, 2023, from 2 – 5 p.m., at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California. Dan will be laid to rest at Madronia Cemetery in Saratoga, California.
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