Brian Lee Tanner, 57, of Bringhurst, Indiana, passed away peacefully Sunday evening at Greeneville Community Hospital East.
He was born on Feb. 29, 1964, to Donald “Bud” and Naomi Hoot of Cold Water, Michigan.
A graduate of the University of Michigan and George Mason University, he was President of Spaceport Indiana and was a Civilian Astronaut and a former F-14 test pilot.
Brian had been involved in the commercial space program since 2008. He served on the first Spaceports Council under the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and built the Spaceport Indiana program which held INSpace Camps, Space Labs, Rocket Science, Intra to Robotics, Drone Schools, UAV Pilot Certification Classes, and Mars Exploration Challenges for children and adults. He developed the Spaceport outreach program for education and had become the largest STEAM provider in Indiana. He created many platforms to serve national interest regarding post disaster assessment, communications links for military environments using HALO technologies, and launch systems. He had the opportunity to test and assist with the engineering of a space suit for high altitude use and completed three high-altitude test jumps — the highest was more than 86,000 feet.
Brian was considered one of the foremost leaders in technology transition to education within Indiana and developed a number of award-winning programs. He was awarded the MIRA Award for three years for his contributions to technology in education. A NASA Top Star Award winner with more than 50 other awards to date, he was a CRANE Naval Distinguished Lecturer for the U.S. Navy, and a frequent keynote speaker on commercial space topics as well as education. He was named top 40 International Space Leader 2017-2020; named the Top 50 International Space Company 2017-2020; and received the Junior Achievement “Best of Indy” Award.
In 2020, Brian and Lori opened Cosmos Coffee (Begin Your Journey) in Flora focused on Faith and Space. Besides the coffee, desserts, food, many people came for group discussions and chats. It was the community gathering place which created friendships.
As a part of Tanner Ministries, a children’s book “Young Astronauts-Adventures in Genesis!” about faith and space will be forthcoming. Brian was on the Speaker’s Bureau for presenting talks on Space and Creation. A Space Exploration Center was in the works to be built in Flora beginning next year.
Brian was active in the Flora United Methodist Church and was joined by his wife as part of the Praise Team for two years.
He is survived by his wife: Lori Gregg Tanner, formerly of Greeneville; children: Eli and Liberty Harshbarger; his mother: Naomi; a sister: Valerie (Don) Cheuvront; and nieces, nephews; and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his father: Bud; and a sister: Vickie Brown.
The family expresses a thank you to the nurses, respiratory therapists and staff of ICU of Greeneville Community Hospital East for their loving and precious care of Brian and Lori, and Richard Jeffers and Jeffers Funeral & Cremation Services for their assistance with the arrangements.
A Celebration of Life will be held in Flora, Indiana, at the Flora Christian Church at a later time.