Fifteen years after he piloted the Challenger space shuttle, Don Lind walked through the doors of Jordan High School in 2000 and returned a Beetdigger banner that had flown through space to his alma mater.

“You cannot even imagine the exciting things about to happen in your life,” Lind told a packed gym of Jordan High students after he became the inaugural recipient of the Beetdigger Harvest Award, designed to annually recognize distinguished alumni from the school.

He was speaking from experience, too, for his life was filled with much excitement and a wealth of accomplishments.

The astronaut, physicist, fighter pilot and educator died Tuesday in Logan while surrounded by many of his children and grandchildren. He was 92.

Don Leslie Lind, a native of Smithfield, leaves behind a legacy that extends from the Beehive State all the way into space after living his life as a “true Renaissance man.”

Throughout his life, Lind embodied Leonardo da Vinci’s ideal of a man who could do everything and do it well.

His journey started through education, where he became an accomplished physicist with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and a doctorate in high-energy nuclear physics from the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory at the University of California-Berkeley.

He was also a military man, serving as a naval officer and jet fighter pilot, rising to the rank of commander in the United States Navy. He received his wings in 1957 and went on to log more than 4,500 hours of flying time, according to his NASA biography.

Along with his military accomplishments, Lind was named as an astronaut in 1966 and quickly became a standout scientist-astronaut — he studied planetary magnetospheric physics, the auroras, and the solar wind — who helped to design the Apollo 11 science packages and Extravehicular Activity (activities performed by space-suited astronauts outside their spacecraft in orbit above the Earth) and served as CAPCOM for the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 missions, the first two manned missions to the moon.

CAPCOM, “short for Capsule Communication, is the astronaut on earth who communicates with the crew members in their spacecraft,” according to NASA.

Following this, Lind was assigned as a backup pilot for Skylab 3 and Skylab 4 missions and would have flown on Skylab Rescue, if such a rescue mission had been needed for the first U.S. space station. In 1985, Lind flew as an astronaut aboard the space shuttle Challenger on the Spacelab 3 mission, a seven-day, 110-orbit mission to do a broad range of science in microgravity space environments.

Astronaut Don L. Lind was born in Midvale and graduated from the University of Utah. He flew on the shuttle Challenger in 1985. Lind died Tuesday night in Logan while surrounded by many of his children and grandchildren. He was 92. Lind, a native of Smithfield, leaves behind a legacy that extends from the Beehive State all the way into space after living his life as a “true Renaissance man.” | NASA

“He is an accomplished pianist and painter, and his children remember many times gathering around the piano and singing together while dad played. One of his favorite paintings, ‘3/10ths of a Second,’ hung for several years in the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City,” his obituary says.

Perhaps most impressive, Lind was an extraordinary father and husband who loved his family dearly.

His obituary states that he “taught his children how to cherish and honor womanhood by the way he showed his love for his sweet wife Kathleen every day of their lives together.”

He raised his children on the mantra that “the sky is not the limit; that anything we put our minds to, we could do.”

After retiring from NASA, Lind joined the physics faculty at Utah State University, where he was known as an “excellent teacher and one who cared deeply about his students,” said his obituary.

Lind’s scientific prowess and passion for teaching certainly made an impression on his family, as 11 of his children, sons-in-law and grandchildren followed in his footsteps to become teachers, with almost half of those becoming science or physics teachers.

Throughout his life, Lind and his wife, Kathleen, were devoted members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As a young man, Lind served as a missionary in the church’s New England States Mission. He and his wife served as public affairs missionaries in the Europe West Area for the church, as temple missionaries in the Nauvoo Illinois Temple and, respectively, as a counselor and an assistant matron in the presidency of the Portland Oregon Temple as well as serving as a sealer for many years in the Logan Utah Temple.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, Sept. 10, at 11 a.m. at the Smithfield 17th Ward Chapel at 340 E. 300 South in Smithfield. A viewing will be held from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. the day of the service and also from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. the evening prior, also at the Smithfield 17th Ward Chapel.

Services will be livestreamed here.