In memoriam Don Jewell, 1949–2016

December 1, 2016  - By
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don_jewell_4cFriends and colleagues of Don Jewell have sent these messages on learning of his unexpected passing in October. Below is a collection of memories and appreciation from readers and friends of Don.

To add your tribute, send to editor@gpsworld.com.


His is truly a loss for the entire GPS community.

He will be greatly missed. Like a Brother.


With great sadness I just learned of the passing of my Mentor and Friend Don Jewell.

He was the voice of the Warfighter and would always talk to the troops and get their input of the many devices he would review. Much to many manufacturers chagrin he published those against their glowing reviews.

Don and I became friends during my time at Trimble Navigation.
He became my mentor and my friend.
For 1 interview and demonstration of products he had me up for lunch in his house in Colorado Springs. I ended up being there for hours.
I especially enjoyed his company after I left Trimble and I became his escort at Trimble Dimensions in Las Vegas. It was there I introduced him to Tweeting.
He thought that was the funniest thing!

Don will be missed and I hope someone steps up to take his place as a technological voice of the Warfighter.


unknown-1There are many men of talent and ability. There are many men of accomplishment. Many, too, of experience.  There are fewer men of integrity, and even fewer who combine all of these things with humor and friendship. This is what made Don Jewell a rare and unique friend and colleague.  While it is natural to mourn that his time among us is ended, there is also an undercurrent of joy that we shared time together.


Don was a real pillar for the PNT community and consummate spokesman for the truth, always offering constructive criticism where needed. An exemplary personality who always ‘did the right thing.’


Don was  quite active as a volunteer in the Military Division of the Institute of Navigation (ION). From 2010 through 2015, he and I worked together to assemble and co-chair the Warfighter Crosstalk Panel in the Military Division’s annual Joint Navigation Conference (JNC), which was then and remains today one of the most interesting and informative sessions of that conference. It focused on needs of military and first responder users for positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT). We would ask potential panelists to speak freely about their experiences with PNT to support them in operations – what has worked well, what has not worked so well, and what they would truly like to have … then we would tell them to focus on the latter two. The panel was always a big highlight of the conference. Don’s popularity within the community helped us attract some great panelists.

We often traveled together, and it was during our off hours when the work was done that we would relax and chat over a meal. Don was passionate about family, particularly his wife Linda and daughter Dawn. When talking about good times with family, there was always a sparkle in his eyes, incredible joy and pride. Whenever we would have meetings in the Colorado Springs area, he and Linda would invite the team members to their home for an evening get-together, a great way to relax after intense work. Whenever he would come to IDA for work, he would swing by offices of the colleagues and friends he had made over the years, just to say hello.

Rest in peace, Don, and know that you made a big difference for so many in this world — indeed you did for me.


Don was one of those rare individuals that you just wanted to spend hours with listening to his take on life. My big regret is that I couldn’t have more of those hours.


His use of PNT as a vehicle for constant improvement was driven by Don selflessly serving our National Security through helping our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen and others operating in harms way to serve our country well in his passionate and very candid role with his “Constructive Criticism” counsel to Air Force and DoD leadership to assure the troops mission success, returning home safely often after intense combat.
A tragic loss to our Nation, as he did this for many, many years.

As a vocal and outspoken  member of the AF Space Command GPS Independent Review Team, Don was a key player in all the tasks undertaken to respond to tasking by the Commander Space Command.

One of many significant roles was to be the key IRT debriefer of warriors returning to the US through Ft Carson following operational deployments to get candid inputs on what shortfalls in PNT they had using GPS to execute their missions, so that Don could make sure DoD leadership didn’t get complacent in management and operation of GPS.


unknownI’m glad I had the pleasure of meeting him. Really nice guy.

Don was a very kind man and very supportive when I worked with him. This is very sad news.

He held tremendous respect in the GPS Control Segment community.  Many of us were regular readers.

We’ll all miss him.

Sad news. I’m sorry to hear this. It was always a fun conversation with him and was one of the reasons I looked forward to attending ION. Our one hour lunch get-togethers would always turn into 2+ hours.

He was such a nice guy, and fun to work with.

We lost a wonderful friend.


May I respectfully suggest advocacy for naming the GPS AMCS at Vandenberg as the Don Jewell GPS AMCS.

I know that would bring a smile every time I heard or read of this honor to Don’s and his world-wide contributions to GPS/GNSS across all segments of navigation and for his service to our nation.

I suspect Don would have been humbled by this well deserved honor.

I will miss Don, and the opportunity for more occasional chats.  I suspect many others will as well and I hope will endorse this recognition.

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1 Comment on "In memoriam Don Jewell, 1949–2016"

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  1. Eric Gakstatter says:

    I will miss our annual rendezvous’ at the ION GNSS conference. A one-hour lunch with Don usually turned into an afternoon of lively discussions. He had an endless number of stories and was a consummate networker.

    We’d also talk about our Air Force days. Not that we served together nor knew each other then, but how he’d fly’em and I’d fix’em.

    He spoke so proudly of his wife and daughter, which told me a lot about his values.

    Godspeed Don.

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